Monday, February 23, 2015

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Book Review

To celebrate the release of the newly redesigned Princess Academy series, and to celebrate the new release of Shannon Hale's third book in the Princess Academy series, I'm sharing my reviews of this fantastic children's book series. Though I read this book years ago when it first came out, I thought it would be great to review it here for the first time Mundie Kids.

Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: April 17th, 2007; released with a new design on 2/2015
Series: Princess Academy #1
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes&Noble
4 Stars - I Really Enjoyed It
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.

An adorable story with a powerful message of believing in yourself, and following your heart. 

This is not your normal fluffy, fairytale story. It's true the story is based on a fairytale, and has a magical quality and feel to it, but the Princess Academy is a story all it's own. One of the things I love about Shannon Hale's writing is how empowering it is. Hale introduces readers to Mira, a poor, uneducated girl who lives with her family, and her tight knit community of workers in their mountain village. One of the things I loved about this, is that what they may lack in possessions of their world, they definitely make up for in their love. I love a story that is rich in love of family, and friendships. There's no shortage of either in this story. 

Mira, and her village are surprised when they learn that they are chosen to have a one of the girls attend Princess Academy, to prepare one of their girls to become the next princess. Everyone is surprised when Mira, the smallest of her family, and the one who least likely seems worthy of Princess material, is sent. If she is deemed to fragile to help support her family by working in the quarries, how in the world is she excepted to become elegant and proper. I understood the feelings of Mira's self doubt, and not feeling like she'll ever measure up, let alone be worthy of her father's love. My heart broke for Mira and her feelings of not feeling like she was enough. 

The transformation that follows with Mira, our beloved main character is an inspiring and empowering story. Mira's story is one of heart, and strength. Through out all that takes place in this story, she learns to always stay true to yourself, never strop believing in yourself, no matter what anyone says, and always follow your heart. While at the Princess Academy, Mira learns more than just being proper, social etiquette, and how to read and write. Mira discovers who she is. 

Mixed into this story of self discovery, is adventure, plot twists that kept me turning the pages, and a few surprises. There is a lot more that is going on at the Princess Academy, than just preparing girls to become princess. Oh how I love Shannon Hales writing. It is beautiful, and empoweirng because of the wonderful messages she has for her readers. I hope every young reader sees a little bit of themselves in Mira, because then they'd realize they are just as amazing as she is. No matter where they come from. 

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~