Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale
Publication Date: 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Number of Pages: 314
Awards: Newbery Honor Book
Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy, coming-of-age fiction
Along with the other girls in her village, Miri is sent to the princess academy as a potential bride for the prince of Asland.
Fourteen-year-old Miri has spent her life being frustrated that her protective father will not let her work in the stone quarry that provides her village’s primary means of trade. Fearing that her small size makes her appear weak and useless to the rest of the village, Miri has mostly withdrawn from village life with the exception of her relationships with her father, sister, and childhood friend Peder. Miri’s village is changed forever when it is prophesized that the next princess of Asland will be from the village. A princess academy is established to teach the vilage’s girls the etiquette, diplomacy, and history that they will need to be a princes. Miri finds herself suited to the academic rigors of the princess academy and soon is one of the top two students in the class. She also discovers a telepathic means of communication called “quarry speak,” which enables residents of her village to talk to each other over distances. Miri’s quarry speak skills are put to the test when the academy is taken over by bandits who want to hold the future princes hostage. Using quarry speak and her newfound leadership abilities, Miri is able to save the academy and help the right girl become the princess of Asland.
I really loved Princess Academy. In addition to being well-written and engaging, the novel also presents an important message: that with hard work and conviction anyone can make a difference. Miri is an unconventional yet inspiring heroine – I think young readers will really identify with her. I really enjoyed the depictions of village life as well – Shannon Hale did an excellent job bringing this factious mountain village to life.
Why I Chose the Book:
I enjoy fairytales and school stories, so I was excited to learn about a novel that combines these two genres.
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Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
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Book Talk Ideas
Have students or patrons design a curriculum for a princess (or prince) academy. Ask them to determine what a future ruler needs to know and how they would teach those skills.
1. How does Miri’s self-perception change over the novel? How does her perception of her village’s view of her change?
2. What role does quarry speak play in the novel?
Amazon (2014). Pricing information. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Academy-Shannon-Hale/dp/1582349932/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1399620010&sr=8-1
Goodreads (2014). Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/763473.Princess_Academy
Hale, S. (2005). Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
“Princess Academy.” NoveList K-8. EBSCO, 20 Sept. 2005. Web. 9 May 2014. <http://0-search.ebscohost.com.catalog.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=njh&tg=UI&an=136942&site=novpk8-live>.