Monday, July 7, 2014
Another Princess Book about a Princess who is not so Princessy (which is a good thing)
Hale, Shannon (2012) Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. New York: Bloomsbury
The first book in this series, Princess Academy, was one I almost passed up. But I have really enjoyed Shannon Hale's writing in the graphic novels Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack, so I figured I would give it a shot. I loved the first book, which was about how Miri, a poor stonecutters daughter, gets sent to the princess academy along with the other eligible young women of her mountain province because a law says that the princess must be chosen from a rotation of provinces. In that book, we got to see how Miri rejected the dream of being a princess, but realized that the academy was a place where she could learn things that could benefit her province. We also got to see her escape from bandits, survive etiquette lessons, and show her kindness toward the other girls trapped in the academy with her. It was a good book.
So here is the sequel. In this book, Miri has been chosen (at least temporarily) to be one of the ladies-in-waiting for her best friend, the new princess, Britta. She is excited about this because Britta has also arranged that Miri can study at the Queen's Castle, a university where Miri can learn about the whole kingdom. Miri accepts and soon finds herself caught between her student friends, who are organizing a rebellion against the injustice of the king's policies, and her friends at court, including Britta, who is still trying to prove herself a worthy princess. Miri also finder herself conflicted between Pedar, whom she has always assumed she will marry, and a student who seems to value her opinions and ideas.
It is a good book. Mari is a smart and brave young woman who is a bit out of her element, makes some mistakes, but ultimately does the right things. Oh, and did I mention her mutant superpowers? I didn't? Well, you'll have to figure that out for yourself.
This book would be great for girls from fifth grade on up (though they should start with the first book in the series.)