If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses), by Susan Maupin Schmid

Squeezing in a review...I've been writing quite a bit for B. and N. Kids Blog, and it shows in the paucity of posts here.  But I have a nice one to share this evening--If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses), by Susan Maupin Schmid (Random House Oct. 2016).  It is a very good book to offer the 8-10 year old who enjoys wish-fulfillment type fantasy set in castles, who likes gentler stories as opposed to blood and gore.

Darling has been part of the staff of the castle since she was born.  Adopted by a kindly Under-Slicer Jane (this is the sort of castle where everyone on the staff has a very clearly defined position), Darling assumes that she'll rise in the ranks to a solid position of her own.  When she's ten, she gets her first position, as a pot scrubber, slaving in the under-cellar under the stern eye of the Supreme Scrubstress.  But luck is with her, and she gets promoted up to the rank of Under-Presser, ironing Princess Mariposa's linens.

Darling is the sort of girl who dreams of magic and adventure (her year of pot scrubbing was mostly spent telling stories to her fellow comrade in suds), and so immediately starts imagining the Princess befriending her.  Mariposa is preoccupied by the pressure being put on her to marry, and though she and Darling do cross paths, it's not through the princess that Darling finds herself caught in a web of magic.  Near to the room where she irons, there's another room, used to store 100 old dresses.  The dresses are magical, and want to be worn, so that they can help save the castle from those who would destroy it by waking the enchanted dragons who built it.  Mariposa can't resist the lure of the dresses, and finds that they transform her into other people when she wears them.  They are the perfect disguises for her to wear as she tries to figure out just what is happening!

And there is plenty going on.  An evil prince seems about to win Mariposa's hand and claim the kingdom, there's the plot to wake the dragons, and there's other treachery within the castle.  Gradually more and more magic, and more danger, is woven into the story, and Darling must be as clever as she can be to figure everything out and save the day.  Fortunately, as the reader expects, she has good friends to help her.  Including not just other castle kids, but some very helpful enchanted mice....and the dresses themselves, who seem almost like characters in their own right.

The 100 magical dresses are a very appealing premise, and the story is pleasantly entertaining.  It moves along at a quick pace, with a nice build up of complexity, and has a charming fairy tale feel to it.  Offer this one to elementary school readers who have been enjoying all the magical creature books that everywhere these days, to expand their reading horizons into castles and (introductory level) intrigue and mystery!

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