Weeding time has begun hereabouts, a time of mixed joy (I find weeding soothing) and despair (I can't weed fast enough). But regardless, I am a weeder. As well as a reader.
So of course I had to get hold of Garden Princess, by Kristin Kladstrup (Candlewick, March 2013), the first example I have ever come across of a juvenile fantasy whose heroine is a weeder! (Weed fantasy--the next big thing? Probably not).
Adela is a princess--plain and somewhat awkward, but royal none the less, which conflicts with her gardening (I hear you, Adela--my job conflicts with my weeding something fierce too!). And because of her love for plants, she gatecrashes a garden party to which she was not invited (though the handsome young castle gardener, and her vapidly beautiful young step-aunt both got invitations) simply because the thought of visiting the fabled garden of Lady Hortensia is irresistible.
Lady Hortensia has a way with plants. An evil, twisted, magical way...let's just say, all the beautiful people who get invited to her parties are changed by the experience...and Adela is about to see her in action! Adela's fortunate escape from the attentions of Lady Hortensia, and the brave efforts of a thief (in enchanted magpie form--he was the most interesting and entertaining character of the story), foil the evil Hortensia, and all is well.
It's a pleasant, fast read--light, fairy-tale fun. There's not much in the way of deep substance to the plot or to the various romances (which were rather rushed), and the moral--that "a beautiful person was someone who was good and kind" (p 190) is underlined repeatedly. But Adela's desire to do her own thing outside societies expectations of what a princess should be, and her growing determination to make those desires come true, are appealing.
A nice one for younger middle grade readers, who don't require their princesses to be beautiful, or their romances more than fairy-tales.
Here's another review, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.
And now I'm trying to think of other fantasies involving gardening--Petunia, in Princess of the Silver Wood, by Jessica Day George, and several of Robin McKinley's heroines, love gardening...anyone else?