Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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*****= An all-time favorite
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****Princess Academy

by Shannon Hale

Reviewed August 2, 2005.
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, New York, 2005.  314 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (J MCN F HAL).
Winner of a 2006 Newbery Honor Award.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#9, Young Adult Fantasy Fiction)

I like Shannon Hale’s books so well, I ordered my own book the same day I ordered the library one—I knew I’d want my own copy.  I wasn’t sorry.  Shannon Hale has written another beautiful fantasy tale that explores how the important role of the common people even in a grand kingdom.

The priests have decreed that the Prince’s bride is going to come from the quarry village of Mount Eskel.  All the teenage girls are being sent to the newly formed Princess Academy so they won’t disgrace themselves when it comes time for the dance where the Prince will choose his bride.

At first, the plot seemed a little trite.  Is this just a story about who will be the prettiest and outshine the other girls at the dance?  Shannon Hale takes the story much deeper than that.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Miri, a small and frail girl whose father has never let her work in the quarry with the others.  The Princess Academy is her chance to make friends with the other village girls.  Only a mistake at the beginning makes her wonder if they will ever like her.

As time goes on, Miri explores quarry-speak, the way the quarry workers talk without words among the noise of the quarry.  Can Miri learn to speak it outside the quarry, even though it’s never been done before?

The lessons Miri learns at the academy give her new ideas for bargaining with the traders who purchase the Linder stone, giving her a chance to make a better life for everyone.  The mountain people aren’t even considered a province of the kingdom, and Miri hopes that contacting the prince can change everyone’s lives.

This book didn’t captivate me as quickly and as utterly as The Goose Girl and Enna Burning.  However, it is a lovely book, with a story that goes much deeper than simply wanting to be a princess.

Reviews of other books by Shannon Hale:
Shannon Hale Books

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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