"Angelina and the Princess" is the first of the Angelina series my daughter and I have, but we plan to get the rest as we love this so much. Angelina is a tiny white mouse who yearns to be feminine and sweet, but is sometimes headstrong and silly--just like most girls I know (including my five-year old daughter!). Angelina has a dance recital coming up and she is pining away for a major role. However, as she's sick on the day of auditions, she doesn't do well and in fact, barely is able to crawl back home and into her worried mother's arms. She knows she did poorly, and her mother admits as much too, which brings me to one of the things I love about this book--there's no sugar-coating the fact that Angelina has gotten herself into a pickle. It's a storybook, and a fantasy at that, but it's realistic enough to keep the edge off the sweetness.
Angelina is counseled by her mother to do her very best. I don't want to give away the ending, but by keeping a cheerful attitude and trying to do her best for the whole dance company, Angelina is amply rewarded. It's a story with a moral, but the moral isn't presented in a sickeningly sweet way.
The illustrations by Helen Craig are truly a treat. Set vaguely in a Victorian England mousedom, they depict tiny cottages with climbing vines, drapey dresses with floral prints, tiaras, bouquets, adorable furniture, and so on. Three cheers to both Helen Craig and author Katharine Holabird for a book which is a joy to read and great fun to peruse just for the illustrations alone!