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, 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.