These books are great! You need to read them or to read them to your kids. I’d saw their more of a 8-12 year old book for how complicated they are. What I love about these books is they are clever. You know when you go to see a kids movie and you love it as an adult because it is clever and while totally suitable for kids has little almost inside jokes for adults.
These series of books, 4 in all, are a fantasy series following Princess Cimorene’s life. In a land where everyone is expected to do what is suitable behaviour for them, whether they be a prince, knight or fire breathing dragon, Cimorene likes to go against the grain. Cimorene gets tired of learning how to dance, eat, talk and curtsy. She gets the castle staff to train her in things like magic and sword play, at least until her parents find out. It all eventually gets a bit too much for her and she leaves to become a dragon’s princess.
I love how sensible the characters in these books are, just logically thinking about their situations. My number 1 favourite thing is how Patricia C Wrede subtlety references classic fairy tales. Like a fire witch who lives in a large tower with no doors but a window at the top. He is in a bad mood because people keep coming to rescue a girl who “doesn’t live here anymore!”. Or there is Herman, whose father set up a deal with people so he could spin straw for them. Unfortunately Herman is stuck in the family business and even though he changed his name so it was easier to guess people keep getting it wrong so he is stuck with tons of children. None of these references are direct nor do you meet the specific fairy tale person, just the world in which they exist and what happens after their story.
Cimorene’s story spans 4 books and there is also a short story collection called Book of Enchantments that supplements the saga nicely. They are all around 250 pages long and fairly easy reads. I read them when I was younger and had to keep them as an adult. If I ever have kids I’ll read them these books. They are fun, witty, clever, and interesting.