Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 29, 2016)
Description: Ever since she could remember, Violet and her mother have been locked away in a tower by the evil Queen Bogdana, who has the kingdom under her spell. The queen has all she wants except one thing-beauty. Violet possesses this beauty. She also has a secret: though she is very small, both her spirit and her heart are mighty.
When Violet is summoned by Bogdana to start training to become a real princess, it seems like her life might be taking a turn for the better. But hope quickly fades when Violet's mother is expelled from the castle and they're forbidden to see each other ever again. With everyone's lives in the balance, it's up to Violet to break the spell and reunite her family.
My Thoughts: This story begins in a kingdom controlled by the evil Queen Bogdana. She is a witch who has cast a spell over everyone. She can have everything she wants except beauty. The spell to become beautiful requires two very special ingredients - a feather from a living hummingbird and a long hair from a dark-haired girl with lavender eyes between the ages of eleven and twelve.
The queen goes to great trouble and expense to import hummingbirds to live in her garden. She also imprisons a traveling minstrel and her newborn daughter in a tower when the child is born with lavender eyes. This is the story of that girl - Violet - and her mother who have lived imprisoned in the tower for almost eleven years.
Her mother Nuri has tried to make the tower a bearable experience for Violet but encouraging her imagination and telling her stories. Nuri also tells her stories about her father who is also a traveling musician and who is surely searching for the two of them. Violet has grown to be both brave and kind. Nuri has been assisted by a palace maid named Maggie and her husband George who is a gardener. He has made a secret garden for Violet where she has been befriended by the queen's hummingbirds.
This is the story of what happens when the queen discovers Violet, decides to turn her into a princess, and banishes Nuri from the castle. This was a sweet story suitable for elementary students. Its message is that love and kindness is the true beauty. This would make a good first long chapter book for second and third graders who love stories that are like fairy tales.
Nuri awoke to a light pitter-patter on the roof the next morning. Instinctively, she reached over for Violet, to tell her to listen for the rain. But when she opened her eyes, a sea of sadness washed over her, and she lay there for a while until it passed.I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.