Thanks Christina Soontornvat for the pre-release finalized copy of Diary of an Ice Princess #2 – FROST FRIENDS FOREVER! When she learned I was going to tell my almost seven-year-old daughter I’d pre-ordered it for her birthday earlier this month, Christina kindly sent an autographed copy. My little girl was on Cloud Nine. (See what I did, there?)
Basically, the all-white princess regime is over, and Princess Lina the cloud-dwelling, multi-racial, half-human Winterheart is here to lead the revolution with glitter and pom-poms.
Lina is back, excited and nervous to get permission to have her groundling BFF Claudia sleep over for a weekend – the first time she’s ever had a friend to her palace in the clouds. Claudia’s parents are dropping her older brother off at college, and it’s a long roadtrip (Subtext: Claudia comes from an educated, intact nuclear Black family and while that shouldn’t be refreshing to see in kidlit, it is).
Lina’s been to sleepovers at Claudia’s groundling house, but without a DVD or pepperoni pizza, and with her old-school, fun-spoiling Great Aunt Eastia visiting, how can Lina provide her friend a normal sleepover?
Sidebar: Kids who are from cultures where extended family can be a bit, ahem, more involved than many Americans are used to will probably identify with the Great Aunt Eastia storyline so hard.
The girls sneak out in Lina’s dad’s plane to play in a blizzard Lina augments and have a blast… until they’re lost in a massive snowdrift without a way home. Without spoiling, it’s a combination of smarts, honesty, and glitter that make the signal, and help from Great Aunt Eastia that saves everyone’s day.
Also, as a (Hashtag) Woman in STEM, I have mixed feelings about the blind rush to push STEM at girls. The tech industry has a long way to go before it’s truly female friendly and inclusive, but I digress. At the end of the day though, the thought patterns taught by STEAM education (provided Art and creativity are included, which Soontornvat does) should serve as a long-overdue catalyst to break American children into “think for ourselves” mode.
Lina and Claudia are strong female characters without overdoing the trite ‘Mighty Girl’ / ‘Girl Power’ meme, which unfortunately also makes the Ice Princess books stand out.
Like its predecessor, FROST FRIENDS FOREVER enforces that mindset: Without naming names, Lina and Claudia’s play enforces the scientific method. There is a great DIY for ice lanterns in the back of the book (with sneaky lessons on how water freezes) and a hilarious partial recipe for turnip soup that my kids are ecstatic I didn’t make.