Raising The Griffin by Melissa Wyatt
The Plot: Alex is happy with his life in England. There's some family stuff going on that never had much to do with him; his father was always quite clear that their grandfather's dream of reclaiming the past was just that, a dream.
But then the dream becomes a reality, much to Alex's dismay. He's totally unprepared for it.
The dream? Turns out Alex's family used to be the rulers of an Eastern European country. They fled with their lives over 80 years ago. And now -- the family has been asked to return and resume the monarchy. Alex is now Prince Alexei.
The Good: An interesting look at the "Cinderella" story, this time from a guy's perspective.
I also liked that Alex had been raised not to want this, and now has to deal with getting it. His father's reason was to prevent Alex from being disappointed, but the result is Alex has no preparations for the changes in his life.
The country is invented, and Wyatt does a great job with inventing it: there is a language, history, customs, food, even a family tree going back almost 500 years. For something totally made up, it feels extremely authentic.
I also liked that this isn't all puppies and daisies. Wyatt raises interesting points, from economics to responsibility. Wyatt takes the fairy tale element (you're a prince!) and makes it very gritty -- very real. I also liked that she used an Eastern European country that was under a Communist regime.
Links: Author interview by 6th graders; ALAN Interview.