The Frog Princess series by E.D. Baker
Yes, the first book in this series is the inspiration for Disney's latest animated movie, The Princess and the Frog. No, the movie is nothing like the book! In fact, the movie and the book are so different that I can't even say which is better. Princess Emma (not Tiana) is a princess (not a waitress) and there is no voodoo involved. Just good ol' magic. :)
I really enjoyed all of the books in the series (seven in total), particularly the first five. I prefer Princess Emma to her daughter, Millie, who is featured in the final two novels. I can't say why, I just do. These books are cute, with just enough traditional and non-traditional fairy tale elements to create a magical world full of believable characters. These are perfect bedtime stories for any girl who loves fairy tales.
Final word: B+. Great for kids, and fun quick reading material for grown-ups.
Levine (author of my favorite book of all time, Ella Enchanted) is a master at retelling classic fairy tales. Cinderellis is an inventor, a not-yet-sleeping beauty named Sonora takes the spindle curse into her own hands, and fairy gifts go awry in these charmingly funny books. M and I both laughed out loud while reading. Each story is only about 80 pages long, so they are quick to read. I fully intend on reading these books with my children, both boys and girls, when they are old enough.
Final word: A-. These books are just plain fun.
Things Not Seen, Things Hoped For, Things That Are (Things series) by Andrew Clements
As I discussed here and here, Andrew Clements is a go-to author for me. I have no hesitation picking up a novel with his name on it. All of his other works that I have read have been part of his series of school stories, though, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the Things series. I was definitely not disappointed to find that I *loved* it. :) The three books are told from three different character's views: Bobby, Gwen, and Alicia. In the first book, Bobby wakes up one morning and can't see himself--he's invisible. Using this invisibility as a lens, Clements shows how the three characters change through their experiences with their own versions of invisibility.
Final word: A-. I would recommend these books to anyone. They gripped me from beginning to end, and I loved the distinct characters built in each of the three novels.