cover image A Secret Princess

A Secret Princess

Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz. Putnam, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-984812-04-9

Previous collaborators Stohl and de la Cruz (Jo & Laurie) combine themes and characters from Frances Hodgson Burnett classics such as The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy in this theatrical mash-up. While attending the Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentlemen in Victorian England, headstrong Mary, sensitive Cedric, and bookish Sara cling to one another to cope with their boarding school’s melancholy routine. Tragedy leaves Sara—who is targeted by racist classmates and administration for her brown skin and Irish, German, Spanish, and Filipino ancestry—orphaned and penniless; soon after, Mary is expected to leave for America to stay with a distant relation following her father’s death. Hoping to keep them all together, Cedric invites Mary and Sara to live with him at his isolated estate where the trio find an oasis of freedom, safety, and first love. Though the narrative doesn’t often rise above its inspiration, Stohl and de la Cruz imbue this escapist plot and heady romance with Victorian charm, picturesque villas, and idyllic atmosphere for fans of the original texts. Cedric, Mary, and most other characters read as white. Ages 12–up. (June)