This book has been out for a couple of years, and I’d been avoiding it because the title sounded so very fluffy. You know, high school intrigue, but with everyone a future princess in a sparkly pink dress. Silly me! Shannon Hale does not write books that fluffy, and I should know better. At least I waited for the audio book. This was an excellent production by Full Cast Audio. And, those who like the sound of Shannon Hale but aren’t so much for teen books can try her first book for adults, just out this summer, called Austenland. Again, the premise sounds silly, but the reviews are all excellent.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale14-year-old Miri’s one goal in life so far has been to convince her father that she’s big enough to quarry valuable linder blocks with him and the rest of the people in the village. Then, a messenger arrives from the distant capital: the priests have chosen Mount Eskel as the home of the prince’s future bride. And since the residents of Mount Eskel are illiterate country bumpkins, all girls of eligible age will be required to attend a Princess Academy for one year to learn the necessary skills to help run a kingdom. At first, no one believes the messenger: The Lowlanders would surely never allow a mountain girl to be Princess. Once at the Academy, though, where winter snows soon block off the route home, the girls have to work hard whether or not they believe. Miri discovers a talent for learning she never knew she had and makes new discoveries about the silent Quarry Speak as she also learns to negotiate the pitfalls of friendships and rivalries. Yes, there is a ball where the prince is meant to choose a bride – but it happens only halfway through the book. With deep reflections on themes of home, belonging, and the nature of romantic love, this is a beautiful book for fans of fairy tale novels and character-based fiction. It’s probably good from 5th grade up, and, oh yes, it was a Newbury honor book.