cover image Milla Takes Charge

Milla Takes Charge

Erin Soderberg, illus. by Anoosha Syed. Random House, $13.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7364-3924-4

The Disney Daring Dreamers Club series gets underway with this tale that meshes tropes from the Disney Princess world and the story of five fifth graders at Walter Roy (as in Disney) Elementary. Their advisory-group leader, a free-spirited art teacher, tells them to “dare to dream big!” and gives them journals to write about “a princess you connect with or feel inspired by.” Bookish, adventure-seeking Milla, who feels smothered by her overprotective mothers, is torn between Rapunzel and Belle until (in one of the book’s cornier lines), a friend points out, “You have a teacup pig named Chip! You are totally Belle!” Soderberg’s (the Puppy Pirates series) plot gets bogged down by Milla’s angst that her parents won’t let her go on the much-anticipated class overnight-adventure trip, a worry that further deepens when her attempts to prove she’s responsible backfire. But Milla shines brightly on the outing, demonstrating the outdoor skills she’s learned from books and her intuitive ability to be a good friend. Though core issues of identity, independence, and teamwork ground the novel, Disney Princess devotees will likely be the most charmed. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. [em](June) [/em]