Both this Middle Grade story and its illustrations are absolutely adorable, and it is such a wonderful book for young girls!
Black Bee Bright, called BeeBee, narrates this book written in the form of diary entries. BeeBee is just about to turn thirteen and lives all alone with three “godmommies” and a tutor “on an island in the middle of very tropical nowhere.” She feels compelled to complain about it before she explains how she got there:
All this nature was fine when I was four. Even when I was eight. In a week, I’ll be THIRTEEN. I want air conditioning. I want window screens. I want a Forever Best Friend, and a Boyfriend!”
It turns out however, that BeeBee is isolated for her own safety; she is the daughter of the Raven King and Raven Queen, and was sequestered by her mama on Bee Isle when there was a war in Raven World. But Bee is sad and bored, and also stressed out: when she turns thirteen she is eligible to take the OPT (“Official Princess Test”) to see if she qualifies to be a princess and eventually take over the throne of Raven World. Also, if she passes the test, she gets to travel between Bee Isle and the other two worlds: the Fairytale World and The Other World (or “the regular place”). But there is one more condition besides the test: she has to find and meet the eight princesses who are supposedly someplace on the island.
Turning thirteen is confusing for Bee. Lots of challenges are ahead. Her body is changing and the information the godmommies give her on her background is changing too. Can she manage it all? Can she pass the test, find a friend, find a boyfriend, meet the princesses, and find meaning in her life?
Evaluation: I can’t adequately convey how cute and fun this book is. And although my plot summary makes it sound as if there is a lot of fantasy in this book, it really is more about being thirteen, learning values, and learning to love yourself. BeeBee is funny, brave, honest, curious about the world and about what it means to be a girl; sometimes silly and sometimes very grown up. The “godmommies” are terrific characters and role models, and the illustrations by Shadra Strickland are outstanding as well. Highly recommended for both you and the growing girls in your lives!
Published by Turner Publishing Company, 2012
For more multicultural picture books, check out all the resources at The Birthday Party Pledge, a new website dedicated to promoting gifts of multicultural books to the children in our lives.
For more reviews of books for children and teens, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.