Authors: Laura Joy Rennert
we are expecting some visitors,” says our teacher Lady Mary.
The trumpets sound. This means the Royal Guard has arrived. I wish I could go to the window to see if there are any dragons with them! We used to see dragons more frequently when I was little, but now seeing them is rare. Because dragon fire sometimes
accidentally damaged forests and farms, the Royal Council limited where and when dragons could fly. So it’s an extra-special treat to see them!
A Royal Herald marches into our classroom in great state. He announces: “Hear ye, hear ye. The Royal Academy’s All-School Princess Contest will take place tomorrow, with each class flying its colors and banner from the castle battlements.”
I have a sinking feeling. As soon as the herald and trumpeters leave, everyone starts to talk at once… everyone except me, that is. I feel sick to my stomach. What if I trip during the royal parade out onto the field? Or accidentally break a glass slipper! What if I do everything wrong?
As if things aren’t already bad enough,
Lady Mary tells us that this year boys from the Royal Prince Academy are also going to come and help out. Great. Now
people will see me mess up!
Even the thought that the Royal Dragon Guard will be at the contest as a part of our Academy’s tradition can’t cheer me up.
“I’m no good at this stuff,” I groan to Rapunzel.
“You’re good at lots of things!” she tells me. “We just have to figure out the princess things you do well.”
Princess Alex and Princess Moriah walk by right then. Alex says just loud enough for me to hear, “And you’d better do it fast, or our class will take last place!”
I spend the rest of the day trying to think
of princess things I might be good at. By the end of the day, my list isn’t very long. At all!
Rapunzel has a plan, though. She meets me in the courtyard after the final bell, and I can see she’s excited about something. She’s got Princess Laura in tow.
“I’ve got it! You can both come home with me this afternoon and we can set up some princess events so you have some practice before the contest, Emma.”
When we get to her house, she and Laura set things up.
And… I mismatch
the ballroom gowns and shoes, dismount from the royal carriage right in a huge mud puddle, curtsy on Laura’s gown by mistake, and ride a horse like a boy with my school uniform all hiked up,
when I should have been riding sidesaddle like a princess.
Afterward Rapunzel says, “Well, at least you tried. It wasn’t
Sigh. I wish I could ride a dragon instead! Dragon riders DON’T have to ride sidesaddle.
next morning, I try to convince my mother I’m too sick to go to school. For
she doesn’t believe me.
I plan to get to the royal carriage stop late. But my cousin Ben, who goes to the Royal Prince Academy and waits at the same carriage stop, challenges me to a race. I couldn’t just let him win, could I?!
Before I know it I’m at school, the
trumpets are sounding, and the contest is starting. I look around for Rapunzel. She runs up to me smiling. Am I ever surprised! She whispers, “I got a haircut… because I like your short hair.” I grin back. Rapunzel always makes me feel better.
Overhead, the Royal Dragon Guard swoops, and everyone claps. I can’t take my eyes off them! The dragons sparkle in the sun as they fly, and the riders are so daring.
I hear some whispering. Moriah, Laura, and some of the other princesses have their heads together. I turn to see what they are looking at, and it’s a small group of gnomes—the dragons’ trainers. Wow!
I wonder if I can get close enough to ask some questions about the dragons. We don’t see gnomes much these days. They are the dragon experts, and they’re not out in the kingdom anymore now that the dragons can’t fly freely.
“Come on, Emma!” says Rapunzel.
I’ve been so busy looking at the dragons, I forgot about the contests. The music starts, signaling our walk onto the field. Rapunzel gives my hand a squeeze.
The first competition is the Royal Bake-Off. The judges announce that this is a test to see who can make the lightest cake. Princess Sarah’s cake is so lacy it melts on the judges’ tongues. Princess Jordan’s cake has pink swirls, pink polka dots, pink curli- cues,
pink petals. It’s so light it floats right up into the air. Our classmates are cheering.
Gulp. It’s my turn. My cake isn’t exactly light, but it’s chocolate—a chocolate volcano. Who wouldn’t love that? Only
problem is, it erupts at the wrong time—right when the judge starts to cut it! Oops!
Rapunzel wipes the sauce off her face and licks her finger. “Yum!” she says. “Hot fudge!”
Oh, well. I may not have won, but everyone went back for second helpings.
The next event is the “sleeping lightly” test. Princess Laura tosses and turns. The judge checks and finds a pea under her ten mattresses. Points for us! Princess Jordan can’t get comfortable either. There’s a jelly bean under her mattresses.
When I reach the top of my mattress pile, I’m starting to think this event will be an easy win for us. I’m too keyed up about the contest to sleep.
I sink into the softness. Mmm… this feels good.…
“Think of something that will keep you awake!” Princess Alex yells up at me. I think about my friend Bo Peep and her… Oh, no!… sheep…