I try to avoid princess books unless the young royal in question is a very strong character who takes matters into her own hands. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George has a main character who is strong, creative, quirky, and, oh yes - a princess.
Princess Celie is the youngest child of King Glower the Seventy-ninth and Queen Celina. The royal family lives in Castle Glower, a castle that seems alive and magical at times.
For instance, if Castle Glower finds a visiting dignitary annoying it might move the dignitary's rooms to, say, next to the stable's manure pile. The castle seems to know people well. It sent the message that the oldest royal son wanted to study magic by providing books in his room while moving the next oldest royal son's room closer to the throne room indicating that he should be the official heir.
Princess Celie loves Castle Glower. And, Tuesdays are her favorite days because, "whenever Castle Glower became bored, it would grow a new room or two." And, that usually happened on Tuesdays when King Glower was hearing petitions. Celie knows Castle Glower better than anyone else. She has a large book filled with maps she has drawn of the various rooms and corridors of the castle, updated as they shift and change. Celie knows all the secret passages, and all the trick ways to get to different rooms. For example, if you turn left three times then climb out the nearest window you will end up in the kitchens.
When King Glower, Queen Celina, and their oldest son disappear - with signs of a successful ambush on the road - and representatives from the neighboring kingdoms come to "advise" the royal Glower children, Celie leads her sister and brother in foiling a plot to overthrow the family and take over the kingdom. Castle Glower helps Celie and her siblings in their efforts.
According to author Jessica Day George's website, inspiration struck and everything clicked into place for this book. She also hopes to write more than one adventure for Celie, making Tuesdays at the Castle the first book in a new series.
I really enjoyed this book, as did my young readers. Some points are serious, and others are very humorous. I found myself rooting for Celie as she outsmarted (sometimes aided by the Castle) those out to harm her family. Twists and turns (and changing corridors), evil plots, funny revenge, a protective castle, and a strong, intelligent girl make for a wonderful story.
There is a sequel now: Wednesdays in the Tower. I recommend both books!