It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been fifteen years since we snuck our first glimpse at the diaries of that not-ready-for-royalty princess, Mia Thermopolis.
But it’s true!
In the nearly two decades since we heard the words “Welcome to Genovia,” we’ve all grown up a little: Some of us have our own careers/children/tiara-wearing cats; Anne Hathaway, who starred in the two Disney films based on The Princess Diaries series, has her own Oscar; and Genovia has its own Wikipedia entry!
But now the little country so famous for its moderate climate, superb beaches, and pears has once again been thrust into the media spotlight.
And this time it’s because of events so scandalous (but also, according to Kirkus, heartwarming), it took me two books to describe them: one, for adult readers, is called Royal Wedding, and the other is for readers aged eight and up: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.
Notebooks is a very special book for me, not only because it allowed me to follow a dream I’ve had since I was a kid—no, not of turning out to be a princess myself—illustrating one of my own books! But also because it introduces a new character to the royal family of Genovia:
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison, Princess Mia’s half sister, who has been living for the past twelve years in New Jersey, and is totally unaware of her royal heritage. How will Olivia—who considers herself a completely “average” sixth grader, even though she’s a pretty talented artist and “decent” at math—deal with the discovery that she’s second in line to a royal throne? Is she up for the challenge?
Let’s hope so! In a world that lately seems lacking in civility, I think what we definitely need is more royalty. Not the spoiled-brat kind we see on reality shows (although personally, I believe we could all could use more glitter and limos in our daily lives).
I mean the kind like Princess Diana, who was the first royal to be photographed touching an AIDS-infected person, or Queen Noor of Jordan, an outspoken advocate for anti-nuclear weapon proliferation.
And though not all of us are going to marry royals like they did, or turn out to be long-lost heirs to a throne like Olivia, we are all capable of fighting for the underdog, like Princess Leia from Star Wars, or loving our wayward family members even when they do crazy things like freeze the entire kingdom (see: Princess Elsa in Frozen).
Because that’s what being a true royal is all about: using your hidden strengths and talents to do the right thing, even when the odds against you seem insurmountable.
And the more people are willing to use their inner royal powers for good, the more happy endings we’ll have. And to me, that would be even better than a fairy tale.
Thanks so much for joining me on this new journey to Genovia. I just know you’re going to enjoy the trip.