A to Z Challenge Day 16: P
The Pet Washer …. (back cover) It is spring break! Each year the royal families from the seven kingdoms flock to their second castles on the sleepy island of Windym. Overrun by vacationing princesses, the townsfolk struggle to keep up with their outrageous demands. Cianna—a beautiful, blind local girl—works overtime at the Royal Pet Palace and Day Spa. She is the pet washer.
When the friendly (but spoiled), Princess Polly, befriends her, Cianna’s world is turned upside down. She is thrown into a society of royals famous for their riches, their outfits and their pets. Blind Cianna can’t see what all the fuss is about!
As the two girls prepare for the Spring Dance, they are each amazed by the choices of the other. qThe evening of the dance, the two friends discover that their choices lead to disaster for one girl and triumph for the other.
Princess Polly, age twelve, and her six princess friends are dancing a routine called The Seven Sisters at this year’s Spring Festival. Each dancer’s hair is a different color, which Polly considered essential to the routine’s success. That is not necessarily true, Polly is a collector and she is may be simply collecting dancers with differently colored hair. When Princess Mirabel bows out ill, Polly must find a young redheaded girl who can dance. Red hair is rare in the seven kingdoms and none of the princesses Polly knows, besides Mirabel, has red hair. Polly is frantic. Then she notices Cianna.
Fourteen-year-old Cianna works as the pet washer The Royal Pet Palace and Day Spa, one of several pet spas around town. She is superb at her job, mixing all of her supplies herself. Cianna has her work area laid out so she knows where everything is. This system ensures each client is done with the correct shampoos and conditioners. Cianna is blind. One day her system fails her and Cianna uses the wrong item on a princess’s dog, causing the poor dog’s hair to fall out. To pacify the dog’s princess, Mr. Talley suspends Cianna for two weeks, starting immediately.
Cianna lives alone. Her mother passed away giving birth to Cianna and her father’s ship wrecked six years earlier and he has not been seen since. Cianna is an orphan. She cannot read or write, though she longs to be able to do both. The best part of her life is working at the Royal Pet Palace and Spa, and now that is gone. The only friend Cianna had was Mia, until Princess Polly befriended her. Princess Polly wants Cianna, and her red hair, as her seventh dancer. Cianna simply wants a friend.
I liked this story. I thought it would be all girly, but The Pet Washer is mostly about two different girls, with widely differently experiences and expectations, learning to find the best in each other on their way to friendship. Cianna is Cinderella. She’s wanted to go to the Spring Festival each year, but could never afford the expensive tickets. This year she is going as Polly’s guest, and dancing as Mirabel’s replacement. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.
The Pet Washer is carefully built, layer by layer without rushing to the end. There are a mere 190 pages to the story, and it is a fast read, yet it never felt rushed. The plot unfolded in its time and each scene built upon the last. The characters are easy to rally around, even when they are meant to be the bad guy. Bad is never so bad in The Pet Washer. Parents can give their child this book and never worry they might read something terrible or nightmarish. There is some humor, but mostly this is about pre-teen angst, friendships, and privilege.
Girls ages ten and up, including adults who like teen fiction, will enjoy The Pet Washer. Boys can find many great things in the book, like Caden the stable boy/chauffer who breeds and trains the royal horses. He becomes the love interest of Cianna, but not until . . . sorry, spoiler, not going to say. Boys will most definitely enjoy the Spring Festival and the action that occurs there. The Pet Washer is book one in a planned trilogy. The Wishing Star is due out the end of this year and involves more adventures with Caden and Cianna. Until then, get The Pet Washer and enjoy the Spring Festival along with the port town of Flores and its inhabitants. This is an enjoyable debut from Ms. Alvarez.
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Author: Jennifer Lynn Alvarez website Illustrator: Salina Shelton Publisher: Dreamcatcher Books website Release Date: 2011 ISBN: 978-0-9848-4848-5 Number of Pages: 190 Ages: 8+
A to Z Challenge Day 16: P