The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Little, Brown Ink. May 2023. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780316538701; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780316538725.
Gr 7 Up–Countess Camembert of Gougere’s father is deathly ill. She wants to claim her inheritance, but the law states she can only do so if she’s married. She has no interest in marrying a man, which her father understands and supports. He suggests she move to Fondue, the capital city, and begin life as “Count Camembert,” his son and rightful heir. All goes well until the Count attends a “no furs” ball thrown by the progressive Princess Brie of Fromage. The Count makes a splash—and gets Princess Brie’s attention—with a stunning faux fur wrap. They bond over food and fashion and enjoy spending time with each other and Brie’s friends, Lady Gorgonzola and Lady Ricotta. As they grow closer, Camembert fears the deception will be discovered, not knowing Brie has questions of her own. Despite having so many cheese-related names, the narrative does not depend on puns. This charming story is a relatable exploration of questions of identity, honesty, and a journey to self-acceptance. Apart from one brown-skinned friend, most characters are pale-skinned and read as white. The art’s flowing linework and soft palette bring a dreamy quality to the story. Some manga-influenced touches add energy to scenes with intense emotions. The back story of this book’s creation, which does indeed involve a grilled cheese sandwich incident, is just as charming as the book itself.
VERDICT This delightful story will appeal to many readers, especially those who enjoy complicated romances.

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