Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Princess Diaries: Book to Film #2

Author: Meg Cabot
Illustrator: N/A
Year Published: 2000
Publisher: Harper Collins
Awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults (2001)

What did you like/dislike about the book?
Meg Cabot's book, The Princess Diaries, is a story about an awkward high school freshman who finds out she is heir to the throne of Genovia.  It is written in the form of Mia's diary, with frequent entries showing her thoughts.  There are 10 volumes of The Princess Diaries, which cover 14 published novels.

This story is definitely not for young readers.  It discusses issues such as losing one's virginity, French kissing, periods, underage drinking, and breasts.  Many middle and early high school readers will be able to identify with Mia's self-conscious nature.  However, as an adult, I found her frequent whining a bit unpleasant. 

I liked the first-person point-of-view given throughout the book and felt Mia's experiences were comparable with real teens in modern times.  However, the book's focus was more on Mia keeping her secret than on her decision to become a Genovian princess.  Perhaps in the latter books, more attention is paid to her life in Genovia.

Movie TitleThe Princess Diaries (series)
Director: Garry Marshall
Year Produced: 2001
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews
Awards: N/A

What did you like/dislike about the movie?
The movie is more light-hearted and family-friendly than the books.  Especially entertaining are the scenes in which Mia gets her makeover and which chronicle her various misadventures at official palace events.

This movie is rated G and is appropriate for viewers of all ages and can frequently be found on the Disney Channel.  The other title in the series is Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

How do the book and movie versions of this title compare?
The main plot lines of both the book and movie are similar.  Mia is faced with her true identity, which comes as a shock, and she must balance being a teenager with being a princess.  However, some glaring differences occur.  In the movie, Mia lives in San Francisco, Mia's grandmother is a kindhearted queen (not a princess), and Mia's father is recently deceased and inactive in her life.  In the book, she lives in New York, her grandmother is reviled for her haughty nature, and Mia's father is an active presence in her life, albeit with testicular cancer.

What is surprising to me is that such a family-friendly movie would come out of a teen book.  I can imagine there have been various instances of young girls reading about Mia's misadventures, only to realize the mature subject matter.

Overall, the book was an okay precursor to the movie.  While the basic plots aligned, the subject matter and appropriate audience did not.  

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