Friday, July 06, 2007
by Shannon Hale
A story about would-be princesses and the destiny of one small but determined girl.
High on the slopes of Mount Eskel, Miri's family has lived forever, pounjding a meager living from the stone of the mountain itself. Miri dreams of working alongside the others in the quarry but she has never been allowed to work there—perhaps , she thinks, because she is so small.
Then work domes from the lowlands: the king's priests have divined that the prince's bride—the next princess—will come from Mount Eskel. The prince himself will travel to the village to choose his bride, but first all eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal lowlander life.
At the school, Miri finds herself confronting both bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicted desires to be chosen. Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri, named for a tiny mountain flower, who must find a way to save her classmates.
Princess Academy is written for 10 to 13 year old girls. The story moves a little slowly at times, but that is a reflection of life on Mount Eskel. I love stories where the girl is the hero—not because she's beautiful or rich or lucky, but because she is smart and hard-working and determined to succeed. When my girls were growing up, I "planted" books like this one for them to read because I wanted them to get that message. It's what is on the inside that counts. No matter how small or insignificant you may think you are, courage and tenacity wins the day.
This is definitely a book that I will hang onto for my future grand-daughters.