Title: My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic: The Journal of the Two Sisters: The Official Chronicle of Princess Celestia and Luna
Author: Amy Keating Rogers
Illustrator: Interior Becky James / Cover by Ross Stewart
At the library my nephew insisted on a My Little Pony book, so we browsed the catalogue and thought this looked cool enough to place a hold and wait for it to come in. The Journal of the Two Sisters gives additional background on the Alicorn princesses from the television show My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic that rule over Equestria and how they came to be in charge of raising the sun and the moon. The first two-thirds of the book alternates between journal entries by Luna and Celestia, and then abruptly that ends. The remaining third is a rehash of journal entries and episodes from the television show.
My nephew, who is 5, was reasonably sated. I on the other hand was horribly disappointed. This was such a good concept and so poorly executed. The biggest fail is the character voices. If you’re going to write first person, particularly alternating first person, capturing the distinct voice of each character is important. While reading, I found myself wondering if the author had bothered to watch the My Little Pony episodes that feature Celestia and Luna. She wrote them in a style that I could best describe as stereotypical preteen. For instance, the first page has Celestia (a normally articulate character) use the word “amazing” seven times, and Luna’s first journal entry has her declaring that her signature Royal Canterlot voice is “silly”.
I’m willing to accept that Celestia might develop a more advanced vocabulary over a 1000 years, but seeing as how her sister was essentially in suspended animation most of that time, there’s no reason Luna shouldn’t sound like Luna. The Royal Canterlot voice thing becomes a symbol of everything wrong with this book. It glazes over why Luna and Celestia were chosen to be princess, but apparently it’s a surprise promotion given to them for purely genetic reasons (Alicorns are a mix of the other three pony races) but for some reason they were taught the “Royal Canterlot Voice” while they were fillies by the other Alicorns who…psychically guessed they would be chosen over other Alicorns to be princesses? It’s not clear because the other Alicorns are never really mentioned again.
I know some of you are wondering why I’m taking a book based on a children’s show so seriously. But there’s a reason MLP is popular with 30 year old men. The TV show is funny, smart, and well written. But the book was none of these things. I had some hope it might tie some of the show’s unique mythology together a little better, but it did little in that direction.
It started picking up some hints of plot about midway through, but then the book abruptly stops, and the last third is an entirely different book or part of a book, “The Journal of Friendship”, which would have been a cute idea if it actually logged all the entries made over the course of the show. Instead it’s a rather random assemblage of episode scraps and references.
Really the only thing saving this from being one star is that it’s pretty and I’m a sucker for pretty hardbacks. The interior and exterior artists did a wonderful job (at least through the Two Sisters Section), but the writing just doesn’t stand at the same quality. To be fair, with a franchise book it’s hard to know where to put the blame, since the writers often have to work under restrictions, but really, even with six to ten year old girls as the primary audience, our kids deserve better books.
2 out 5.