Book Review: DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS by Christina Soontornvat

If FROZEN was rewritten to be funnier, voicier, and more diverse, you would have something similar to Christina Soontornvat’s new chapter book/early Middle Grade book DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS: SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME. (First in a series).

Thank you Kidlit Exchange and Scholastic for the Advance Review Copy, provided in exchange for the honest review below.

On its face, Diary of an Ice Princess is a humorous and fun series about Princess Lina who wants to master her magical powers and enjoy a more traditional human childhood. Peel back a layer and Princess Lina plugs some gaps in the kidlit canon that have been a thorn in this writer/mom’s side.

Two days after I’d requested this book from Kidlit Exchange, my six-year-old Black/white biracial daughter unloaded on me after a frustrating trip to the library: “Why are all the princesses always white? It’s no fun when they just have one Black friend. Being white is not that special!” (If I didn’t live in a red state, I might consider printing the latter on a t-shirt).

So… yay for a non-blonde ice princess; sad it took us till 2019 to get one.

Princess Lina is REALLY of two worlds- her mother is a POC sky dweller and her father a white Groundling. To note, this is not stated in the text, but is clear in Barbara Szepesi Szucs’ illustrations.

Storyline is: Princess Lina’s already-present Groundling BFF Claudia encourages her to apply to a special STEM academy for Groundlings. She’s allowed to go on the conditions that she spends Saturdays with her formidable Granddad, learning to harness her Windtamer powers to one day rule the skies, and that she never tells any of the Groundlings who she really is.

Except Lina has more trouble adjusting than she should. She literally freezes an annoying classmate (give her a few years, Lina will have a crush on this guy) during freeze tag; and the school science fair is ruined by a freak September blizzard and Lina’s and Claudia’s experiment freezing.

Spoiler alert/another reason this book is so great: It turns out Lina’s failures as a Windtamer are because… she’s actually a Winterheart (hence the series title). Once she figures that out, she and Claudia are able to redeem their science fair fiasco through a sciencey soda snowstorm during the school talent show.

Give to: Fans of Owl Diaries, Polly Diamond, Jasmine Toguchi, and Notebook of Doom.

Something so frequently lost in the Girl Power messaging is that you can be both “girly” and smart/strong. Soontornvat nails that though, weaving it in throughout the book.

I believe I speak for mothers everywhere in saying: THANK YOU CHRISTINA for not specifying which brand of soda and mint candies produces an explosion.

DIARY OF AN ICE PRINCESS: SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME and its sequel FROST FRIENDS FOREVER go on sale July 30 from Scholastic.

Bonus: Check out Christina’s amazing pre-order giveaway here.

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