Monday, November 29, 2010

Princess Academy - Shannon Hale

Summary:  High on the slopes of rocky Mount Eskel, Miri's family pounds a living from the stone of the mountain itself.  But Miri's life will change forever when word comes that her small village is the home of the future princess.  All eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal life.  At the school, Miri finds herself confronting bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicted desires to be chosen.  Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri, named for a tiny mountain flower, who must find a way to save her classmates--and the future of their beloved village.  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Princess books usually don't call to me because the plot is so predictable and most of the story line for Princess Academy felt fairly predictable. The bandits section was where Hale broke from the typical girly-fairytale routine--and it definitely added some adventure and suspense.  It brings a levity to the otherwise trite storyline.  Girls today need to be wary of strangers, and putting themselves in situations where they could get hurt.  This story, in a way, introduces that subject to younger readers.  I believe this book is aimed at a 5th,  6th or 7th grade girl.  I do think my 8th grade girls could enjoy it--I just know they are starting to get into more adult topics at my school by 8th grade.

The overall message and ending felt right, and not just for a fairytale. It felt right for real life. Sometimes the dream really isn't what you want or need. Sometimes you have to realize that what you have it better than the grass on the other side of the fence. I loved the message of learning and how it broadens your horizon and breaks boundaries, perceived or not. I liked the empowerment for women this book promotes. It didn't do it in a way that belittles men and for that I admire Hale's writing all the more. I think this is a great book for younger readers in the YA group. I will definitely be recommending it to my students.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars--for YA books.  For an adult it's more like 3.5 stars.

Sum it up:  A fun twist on fairytales.


Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

So I can hold off on my 4th grader reading it for awhile?

Kari said...

I think she'd be right at the cusp of enjoying this book. Depends on your child I'd presume. 8th grade is about the limit I'd recommend this book because beyond that it would seem very childish to a high school student. A 4th and 5th grader might love it.

Monica said...

I agree with your review and thought I would see what else of Shannon Hale books you have reviewed ... I was surprised to see only one other - which was not her best (or may be her worst). If you haven't already - you've got to read Goose Girl and Book of 1000 days. Both by Shannon Hale and two of my "can read over and over again" favorite books. They are just enjoyable - and that's usually what I like.

MindySue said...

Monica, yes we have only reviewed this book and one other, but I've actually read Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and 1000 Days. I haven't read Forest Born yet. Goose Girl and Enna Burning are my favorite of any of her books. The reason they aren't reviewed is that I read them so long ago I don't feel I can accurately review them other than to say something vague like "WOW THESE WERE REALLY GREAT". When I get around to re-reading them, they will definitely get reviewed for the blog.

If you haven't read Eva Ibbotson yet, I would suggest "A Countess Below Stairs" and "The Reluctant Heiress" (both reviewed). I haven't read The Star of Kazan yet, but I hear it's very good as well. I also love Tamora Peirce's "Song of the Lioness" series, though it is for a bit younger age group.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book and still do to this day... I first read it when i was in (not super sure) maybe 5th grade, and whenever I get the chance I still read it. And I'm a junior in high school. Sure, people say I'm childish, but it's definitely a good read when I'm down :)

MindySue said...

Anonymous, I'm 33 and I read and enjoy books like this all the time. You are not alone! LOVE what you love and don't apologize for it!


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