Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wishing for Tomorrow: the sequel to A Little Princess

Wishing for Tomorrow: the sequel to A Little Princess
By Hilary McKay
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010. 273 pp. Chapter book.

It's always been a mystery as to what happened to the rest of the students after Sara Crewe escaped Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies. In this lovely sequel, written by Hilary McKay, the continuing stories of Lottie, Ermengarde, and even Lavinia are revealed. How the school, pupils, and teachers are changed and how they all manage to find some happiness in one way or another are addressed, making the original story of A Little Princess even richer. Lavinia is given a more human side and a fuller scope of personality is revealed, showing her deep longing to learn. Lottie is still up to her usual mischief but has matured a small bit. Ermengarde seems to be suffering from Sara's absence the most--her journey of maturing and finding peace is the heart of the story.

Reading a sequel to a childhood favorite, when penned by a different author, is a strange experience. There is always the worry that it won't do justice to the original or that will sound so foreign as to be jarring, but Wishing for Tomorrow escapes all such unpleasant problems. McKay remained so true to Burnett's writing style that the reader can completely and seamlessly slip back into the world of Miss Minchin's Select Seminary. I was truly impressed with the harmony of the sequel and the original; even the phrasing and vocabulary was
in tune. New characters are introduced and are just as delightful as the original ones. My one regret was that Sara wasn't more involved in the story; she was always my favorite character and it would have been wonderful to see things from her eyes once again, although I did appreciate that she was included in a small way. Nonetheless, this was an excellent, beautifully written book with great charm, grace, and hilarious mischief scattered throughout. What a wonderful delight--thank you, Hilary McKay!

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