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Blog Tour: A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Today I am privileged to host author Diane Zahler here on her blog tour! I’m reading her book, A True Princess, right now and loving it! I was skeptical of reading it though because it is labeled middle grade but so far it’s superb! I wanted to have it finished before the blog tour but I started it late and haven’t had too much reading time. I’ll have my review up soon though!

Without further ado: Diane’s guest post!

Retelling a Fairy Tale: Coloring Outside the Lines

Diane Zahler

One of the challenging things about retelling a fairy tale is that the original versions are usually so short.  They’re almost pure plot, with very little description. There’s often a princess or a prince, but sometimes they aren’t even named, or they’re named after what they look like or what they do. Snow White is named after her skin, for example. Sleeping Beauty sleeps. Beauty in Beauty and the Beast is beautiful. Even Rapunzel is named after the herb her mother wants when she’s pregnant. There’s usually somebody evil – a witch or a bad fairy, a nasty wolf or an evil elf, but again, these characters aren’t well developed. The setting, too, is only described in broad outline. A writer has a great deal of freedom when it comes to coloring in these tales.

A novel-length version of a fairy tale needs a lot of details that aren’t in the original. Children’s first contact with fairy tales often comes when their parents read to them when they’re very young. Hearing the stories, kids fill in the outlines themselves with their imaginations and their limited experience. As they get older and look at picture book versions, they use the illustrations as a jumping-off place for coloring in the tales imaginatively. By the time they’re reading novels, they can both imagine the author’s vision of the story and create their own mental images as they read. And when a retelling of a familiar story goes outside the lines, it gives readers even more to work with – the idea that the old story can be made new again. That’s what I’ve tried to do with A True Princess. Though it’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Princess and the Pea,” I included characters not in the original – a heroine who doesn’t know who she is, her two friends Kai and Karina, fierce falcons, menacing wolves, and an evil elf-king and his beautiful daughter inspired by Goethe’s poem “The Erl-King.” I set the story in an imaginary far northern landscape and described a mysterious forest through which the characters have to journey on a perilous quest. The plot includes pieces of “The Princess and the Pea,” but it goes far beyond that simple story. I’ve colored outside the lines for sure – but that’s the fun of retelling fairy tales. And I hope it’s part of the fun of reading them, too!

About Diane

Diane Zahler, author of A True Princess, has loved tales of fairies and magic since before she was old enough to read. She has worked in the children’s room at a public library, in children’s book publishing, and as an elementary and high school textbook writer. The Thirteenth Princess, her first novel for young readers, was published in 2010. She lives with her husband and dog in an old farmhouse in the Harlem Valley that is held together with duct tape and magic spells. Diane’s website is:

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

192 pages, HarperCollins, (2011-02-01)

$10.79 (


Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she’s terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she’s never known. But danger awaits. . . .

As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves’ domain. To Lilia’s horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King’s beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince’s new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever. — Goodreads

Diane’s Blog Tour Schedule

Date Blog Name What’s Happening
February 1 The Compulsive Reader Review, book giveaway
February 2 The Brain Lair Author interview, review
February 3 Jean Little Library Review
February 3 Galleysmith Author post, review
February 4 Write for a Reader Review
February 5 The Cozy Reader Author post, review
February 6 Libri Dilectio Review
February 7 Tales from the Rushmore Kid Interview with my editor
February 8 Green Bean Teen Queen Review
February 8 Mother Daughter Book Club Review
February 9 There’s a Book Author interview, review
February 10 Mrs. V’s Reviews Author interview, review
February 11 The Cazzy Files Author interview, review
February 11 Sonder Books Author interview, review
February 12 BookScoops Author interview, book giveaway, review


Wife, mother of a nearly 7 year old daughter named Madison and new baby boy Riley. Avid reader on my Amazon Kindle. World of Warcraft and CS:S gamer.

6 thoughts on “Blog Tour: A True Princess by Diane Zahler

  1. I really enjoyed Diane Zahler’s prior book, The Thirteenth Princess, and I am so glad that A True Princess is finally out. I am really looking forward to getting my copy of it and to sharing it with my nieces (who have been asking for it for some time now).

  2. I am completely captivated by Diane Zahler’s new work of art, A True Princess. I was mesmerized by the intriguing tale of adventure, friendship, princesses, and the evil elf-king and his daughter. I devoured each page,breathlessly awaiting the next weave of the plot in this fabulous fairy tale. It is truly an imaginative tale of magic, heroes, and true grit, and I was spellbound from beginning to end. I loved Diane’s first book, The Thirteenth Princess, and found A True Princess to be a worthy successor.

  3. Jessica, thanks so much for hosting me. Your site is fabulous! I’m glad you’re loving A True Princess, hope you like The Thirteenth Princess as well. And Lisa, I hope your nieces enjoy the new one too!

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