Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. 2005. Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury Children's Books.

A Newbery Honor book, Princess Academy is about fourteen-year-old Miri who lives with her family on Mt. Eskel. Miri wants more than anything to work in the rock quarry with the others but her father considers her too delicate for such a job. When the priests in the kingdom divine that the next princess will come from Mt. Eskel, then a 'princess academy' is established to prepare all eligible girls to become princesses. Miri sees it as her chance to prove herself to her father and discovers unknown talents within herself while attending the strict academy.

I enjoyed reading Princess Academy, the imaginary world created by Shannon Hale has strong yet vulnerable characters and the imagry is easy to follow and picture in the mind creating a vivid mental picture of the setting. Although it falls into the fantasy catagory, don't look for any fatastical creatures in it. The main fairy tale elements deal with how the people on Mt. Eskel communicate with each other (which is a kind of magic), the rags-to-riches hope, and the love of a prince. My only real complaint is that it was sometimes hard to keep all the girls in the story straight, but the story wraps up nicely with a little unexpected twist.

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