"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Princess Academy

by Shannon Hale

This book was recommended by my sister, and it was a joy to read.  Miri is a young girl who works in a remote village high up on a mountain, where the livelihood of everyone depends on work in the nearby quarry.  Miri doesn't feel that she fits in and is of no use to her father.  When she hears that the prince will choose a bride from this village, Miri believes this is her chance to show her father what she can do.  She, along with the other girls of the village, are taught how to be princesses.  They compete but also learn to work together.  Miri comes to learn more about herself and just what she means to her family and her father.  She also learns of an important talent that helps save her friends when trouble comes along.

I like this story because based on the title, one might thinks its a "fairy-tale" type story, but it is not.  The end comes to a good conclusions for the girls, but it is not what you expect.  Miri is a strong main character who is believable and also inspiring, as are many of the other girls, who together give the book a rich mixture of personalities.  The setting of the book is also written well, with the feeling of this place embedded into the story throughout.

There is a bit of a magical element to the story as well, which is not overdone, but simple and interwoven into the story very quietly.  I enjoyed that it felt natural that this would occur, though it was a book that I wouldn't necessarily consider a "fantasy".  I think this would be an especially good read for young female readers.  You don't usually go wrong with a Newbery Honor Book.

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