A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{March 18, 2012}   Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Plot: Miri grew up high on the slopes of Mount Eskel where men and women make their living in the quarries. Everything changes when the priests declare the prince’s bride will come from Mount Eskel. All elegible girls are forced to attend a makeshift princess academy where they will learn to act as nobles. Miri isn’t sure that she wants to marry a prince she’s never met but her lessons allow her to dream of a better life for herself and for her village.

When I first read the title of this book, I was dubious. I was expecting a Disney princess type of story full of pink and unrealistic fantasies about royal life. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a wonderful, inspiring story about family, community, friendship between women and self-improvement. Ironically, though the academy is formed to chose a wife for the prince, the novel is not about the prince at all. And, if you ask me, that’s the best thing about it.

“It’s all right Miri,” said Britta. “I don’t care. It should be you or someone else really from Mount Eskel. I’m glad to attend the academy and meet you. That’s the good part. Who cares about a prince anyways?”

“I’d wager the prince himself cares a great deal,” said Miri as they rushed back to the academy at Olana’s call. “And he might have a puppy who is quite fond of him.”

I’m sure his dog does like him, he’s a nice enough guy. ^_^

But it’s really about the girls. They are all strong mountain girls and far more intelligent than their tutor gives them credit for. It starts as a competition but they soon become friends and learn to work together.  I love how they take the education that was forced upon them and use it to help their community and attain their individual dreams. Hale made me love these girls and their mountain home.

This is a book full of humour and intelligence. There is also plenty of adventure (in the form of bandits stupid enough to take on quarrymen and women) and a touch of magic. I’m so glad I read it and I was thrilled to learn that a sequel will be coming out this very year!

Now let me leave you with Shannon Hale’s advice on how to be a princess:

How to Be a Princess

  • Learn to walk with a boot on your head
  • Put on your favorite dress
  • Read books after everyone else has gone to bed
  • Memorize all the rules
  • Break the rules
  • Save your friends from uncertain danger
  • And, most importantly, just be a girl

2012 (#29)


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