Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Princess Academy

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I had to reread Princess Academy before getting to Palace of Stone, its recently released sequel. Princess Academy is Shannon Hale’s 2005 Newbery Honor novel.

I’ve always thought Hale’s writing has a unique, lyrical quality that’s so beautiful. It’s almost like reading poetry.

Miri lives with her pa and older sister on remote Mount Eskel in the outer regions of Danland. The villagers’ lives revolve around their work in the quarry, mining a beautiful white stone called linder.

When an announcement arrives that the prince of Danland is to choose his bride from among Mount Eskel’s rough village girls, an academy is established to train and educate the girls. Finally, Miri’s eyes are opened to reading and books, the kingdom below Mount Eskel, and her potential to make something of her life.

When danger strikes the academy, it is Miri’s courage and wit that save the girls from a terrible enemy.

Princess Academy isn’t about fluffy pink dresses and magic wands. The stony mountain setting and harsh realities of poverty and quarry life don’t translate to a Disney-type princess story. The girls are mostly plain Janes, and the prince is a socially awkward teenage boy, which make the story all the more relatable.

Still, the setting feels far away and long ago, and the writing is lovely. Girls 10 to 100 will adore it.

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