A long long time ago, my extended family went to the movies, probably over Christmas. Everyone eagerly looked forward to the film, except me. I thought it sounded awful but I hope I was a good sport about the choice since I was vastly outnumbered. Luckily for me, the movie turned out quite decent; I laughed a few times and rarely felt the need to smother myself in the popcorn bucket. As we drove home, I admitted that the movie was much better than I expected, and I met with the groans of the rest of the family; they had universally hated it and couldn't believe we had wasted our money and time on it.
Clearly my low expectations had set me up for a much more enjoyable afternoon, although I had missed out on the pleasant anticipation enjoyed by my less prescient relatives.
As I chose the books from the series shelves as part of my Read-the-Library Quest, I deliberately fought against my disdain for "girl" books. My instincts are to grab for the boy-centric dinosaur and rocket ship books and avoid anything with glitter and dresses on it, but I don't really know anything about the insides of these books. Sue Bentley's The Magic Kitten #1: A Summer Spell book has sparkly stars around an out-of-focus aggressively cute kitten on the cover, but I forced my hands to grab it and tried it out to find an actual adventure story with a child dealing with poachers and household rules with the help of a royal magical lion disguised as a cute kitten. Yes, it was formulaic and predictable, but no more so than most books at this reading level (first or second grade?) and really not painful at all. I'm even mildly curious as to Prince Flame's next adventures with the girl in the next book.