April 21, 2015

SVT #30, Princess Elizabeth: Royal Pains

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:20 pm by Jenn

That dress is all kinds of wrong

That dress is all kinds of wrong

Summary: This is the prequel to In Love with a Prince, and far less interesting. A kid named Arthur Castle is coming to Sweet Valley as an exchange student from Santa Dora. Everyone’s excited, but no one more than the Unicorns, who plan a big party for Arthur. To their credit, they’re at least doing research on Santa Dora, partly for school and partly to know more about Arthur’s culture. But it comes across as the sort of thing where girls do a tiny bit of research into, say, Indian culture, then put on saris and bindis and pretend they’re Indian.

When Arthur arrives, the cheerleaders do a little cheer, giving Elizabeth a big case of secondhand embarrassment. I assume that happens a lot with Elizabeth. She and Arthur hit it off when she helps him understand Fahrenheit in science class. She and some other students keep asking him questions about Santa Dora, but he’s a little hesitant to answer. He’d rather learn more about America and do things normal American kids do. Arthur, Sweet Valley is the wrong place for that. You should be out seeing movies and going to the beach, not learning how to steal someone’s girlfriend or escape a kidnapper.

Elizabeth and the other kids on the Sixers staff decide to make Arthur a scrapbook full of American stuff. They also give him a crash course in Americana, and he buys a bunch of American-y souvenirs like a football and a Mark Twain book. He also buys Texas sports-team memorabilia, which I don’t get, because this is California, but okay. Arthur continues to be a little reluctant to talk about Santa Dora, and when anyone asks him about his family, he gives vague answers. No one cares that much, though.

One day Elizabeth and Arthur get milkshakes, and while he’s paying, he drops a…whatever unit of currency they use in Santa Dora. Elizabeth notices that the face on the bill is Arthur’s. He admits that his name is really Arthur Castillo, and he’s the prince of Santa Dora. He wanted to keep his identity secret so he could experience the life of a normal American kid and not be treated like royalty. Elizabeth promises to keep quiet.

But the next day, Arthur panics a little and begs Elizabeth to remember to keep his secret. Only he has the wrong twin, and now Jessica knows that Arthur’s a prince. Of course, Jessica’s the last person who should know someone’s secret. (Well, Caroline Pearce is the last person, but Jessica’s a close second-to-last.) Jess spills to the Unicorns, who are thrilled that they get to hang out with royalty.

The secret is soon out, and of course Arthur thinks that Elizabeth blabbed, since she was the only one who knew. Liz is really confused, because she would never betray Arthur’s trust, but she has no idea what happened. Jessica lies that she heard it from someone else. Middle school Elizabeth is naïve enough to believe her, but I bet high school Elizabeth would see right through this.

Arthur’s not having such a great time in Sweet Valley anymore; his closest friend seemingly betrayed him, and everyone’s treating him the opposite of the way he wanted. He feels compelled to do all the stuff everyone wants him to do, though, because to decline would make his family look bad. He agrees to go to the Unicorns’ party with Jessica, but she feels bad about the trouble she caused and confesses that she told Arthur’s secret after he mistook her for Liz.

Arthur makes up with Elizabeth, who keeps working on his scrapbook. Jessica tells everyone at school to treat Arthur like any other student, which maybe isn’t exactly what he was hoping for, but still better than being treated like a prince. He takes the twins to a big, fancy party at the consulate, because no matter how normal Arthur wants to be, he still gets perks. So I think the lesson of the book is that if you befriend royalty, don’t treat him like royalty, but take advantage of the things that come with that status.

Thoughts: I don’t know why the title is Princess Elizabeth. I wonder if the plot was originally something else and they didn’t bother to change the title.

I started this while finishing Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We, which is a much different story about hanging out with royalty. MUCH different. Like, no one’s clothes come off in this one.

Jessica makes an avocado and banana sandwich. I don’t want to think about how gross that would taste.

Apparently there are no jeans or roller skates outside of the U.S.

The kids have been studying Santa Dora’s royal family but never saw a picture of the country’s prince?

Arthur buys a Confederate cap, and someone donates a Confederate flag for his scrapbook. GUYS, NO.

“All week, [Jessica] had imagined how it would be to walk onto Ellen’s elegant patio – hundreds of lights twinkling, Brooke’s Santa Doran melodies filling the air – on the arm of Prince Arthur, the handsomest prince she had ever seen. All the Unicorns would turn and stare, especially Lila and Janet, who were bound to be green with envy. Everyone else would bow as the royal couple walked past on their way to the throne (Ellen’s grandfather’s carved walnut chair), where Arthur would sit in dignified splendor while she stood beside him. And they would dance together, as everybody looked on, and Arthur would whisper in her ear that she was more beautiful than any princess. It was going to be a fabulous evening – the most beautiful, most wonderful evening of her life.” Have you ever read anything more 12 years old?

Speaking of 12 years old, why does Arthur have a Navy uniform? Is that a royalty thing? How low is the minimum age of enlistment in Santa Dora?

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