I am so in love with this book. I ordered it on the strength of E.D. Baker's other books, but because I hadn't read it by the time it came out, it sat (as hardcovers I haven't read tend to do). And sat. And sat. For months. Finally in late November I plucked it off the shelf on my way out the door one night and took it home to read. Which I did in two hours. Then I promptly kicked myself - hard, while wearing steel-toed boots - for waiting so long. Oh, the lost income. Oh, the girls who could have read it already. Oh, the time I spent reading things that weren't as good.
Our heroine: Annie, younger sister of Gwendolyn; Gwendolyn's the princess cursed at birth to prick her finger on a spindle and you know the rest. So when Annie's born, her parents are so paranoid that they ask a fairy to protect her. The fairy casts this charm: From this day on, no magic shall touch you or bring you to harm. You'll have to survive on your natural charm. Annie is now impervious to all magic, which is not exactly considered a blessing in a country where everything relies on spells and charms. Everyone uses magic to make themselves "beautiful and graceful and sweet," and most members of Annie's family had been given magical gifts at their births. However, being in Annie's presence makes those gifts fade, so Annie has spent much of her life being held at arm's length by her entire family.
Annie's gift comes in handy when a miniature spinning wheel is smuggled into the palace and Gwendolyn pricks her finger, causing herself and everyone else within the walls to fall asleep - everyone, that is, except for Annie. Because she is the only one untouched by the magic, it's up to her to save her family and her kingdom. With the help of Liam (a Royal Guard who'd gone on a mission to the town and thus missed the spell) and a series of haphazard princes, Annie will outsmart some well-known fairy tale characters, wake up her family and possibly even fall in love.
THE WIDE-AWAKE PRINCESS is FUNNY. What a great read-aloud this would make. I sold a bunch of copies as Christmas gifts and I am going to sell the absolute crap out of it in paperback; there won't be a girl who shops at our store who won't have this book. Annie is a fantastic character - I always need a great book with a self-rescuing princess. Baker weaves a bunch of bits of well-known fairy tales into the story and it's so much fun picking them out. This book is a total romp and I love it to pieces and I can't wait to read it to my daughter someday. Sometimes when I like a book I just keep the galley, but this one? I'm buying it in hardcover.
(Oh! And the cover! Thecoverthecoverthecover! I LOVE the cover. The galley had a photo cover and I am SO. OVER. photo covers and when the book came I was so happy to see they'd changed it! Yay!)