Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess

Dark Horse. Aug. 2019. 200p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781506710273.
Gr 5-8–Bewildered by her overwhelming ordinariness, a plucky princess finds freedom in choosing her own destiny. While she’s no shrinking violet, Princess Basil of Florim feels like an herb in a flower garden. Fairy-blessed at birth, Basil’s six sisters received preternatural endowments, while she was given the “gift” of ordinariness. When the well-meaning queen has Basil kidnapped in the hope of attracting a suitor, the intrepid princess escapes and stumbles upon Hudson, a shepherd boy and fellow “ordinary.” After visiting with Melvina, Basil’s unconventional fairy godmother, the emboldened team sets off in pursuit of the extraordinary, conquering figurative and all-too-literal dragons along the way. Loosely inspired by M.M. Kaye’s The Ordinary Princess, this graphic novel was once intended as an animation pitch, and the final product retains a cinematic feel. Storyboard-esque illustrations and routine panels make for a crisp and captivating read; characters’ cartoonish features render them eminently accessible. Whereas Basil’s sisters drip with detail, she’s composed of simpler linework; while those princesses pop with color, she simmers beneath a subdued palette, even turning enchanted dresses drab. Between the lines, Anderson adroitly balances pressing adolescent (and—alas—postadolescent) traits and concerns in her protagonist, juggling Basil’s élan and anxiety, spunk and self-doubt, aspiration and trepidation. Finally, as befits a new generation of princess fairy tales, Basil’s happy-ever-after has more to do with friendship and familial bonds than romantic entanglement.
VERDICT Vivacious, reader-friendly, and openhearted, Anderson’s spirited fairy-tale spin-off beckons legions of unwittingly extraordinary fans.

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