Princess Academy

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Princess Academy
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
8+
ISBN
978-1599909509
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Shannon Hale's Newbery-Honor winning novel is the story of Miri, a simple mountain girl whose family has always quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have chosen her small village as the home of the future princess.

In a year's time, the prince of Danland will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. To prepare the village girls, the king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires.

Filled with just a hint of magical realism, Shannon Hale shows all her great talent for original fairy tale stories in this incredible novel

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Girlpower and Friendship Rule
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
This fantasy won a coveted Newbery Honor Award, and it's easy to see why. The story is gripping and intelligent; the themes are friendship, destiny, ambition, and feminine power--laced with realistic-feeling magic.

Miri (who feels useless, small, and helpless) is sent along with the other village girls to the princess academy from which the prince will choose a bride. The school is harsh and the girls are homesick. Miri picks up prince-pleasing skills, but she also learns to read and reason intellectually. In addition, she teaches herself to use "quarry speech," a type of poetic thought transference based on shared memories.

When Miri learns that the linder stone her very poor village mines is, in fact, incredibly valuable, she wonders if she can better the lives of her community. Is the nearly impossible dream of marrying a prince the only means to this end? And what about the fascinating village boy, Peder?

This book feels like an instant classic while being a thoroughly enjoyable read. PRINCESS ACADEMY boasts all the elements for a satisfying tale along with a sympathetic heroine and her passionate yearning--and it ends with a pleasing and surprising twist.

Very highly recommended!
TM
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User reviews

16 reviews

 
(9)
 
(4)
 
(3)
2 stars
 
(0)
1 star
 
(0)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.4  (16)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0  (1)
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One of my favorite books as a child
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
I loved reading this when I was younger, and although some of the details are now hazy, I remember being yelled at for not listening when my parents said lights out ! Miri is a great character for young girls to look up to, and this book was an adventure from start to finish.
Good Points
It was fun and easy to read
Miri was a great character to look up to
It was sweet
It helped me get into reading
The story was very well written and cute
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One of My Favorites of All Time
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
On the surface, Princess Academy seems a silly tale, a story of a Prince choosing a bride, an obvious read-a-like for Kiera Cass' The Selection. Of course, that is the crux of the story: the prince of Danland is to choose his bride from among the twenty girls of the proper age in Mount Eskel, a small territory town full of quarriers. The girls are required to spend a year in training for the Prince's coming. However, Princess Academy is so much more than that, and you would be a fool to pass it by because of that expectation.

The covers given to Shannon Hale's books market to middle grade readers, which I think is a shame. While middle graders could certainly read this book and enjoy it, so too can teens and adults. There is nothing childish about Hale's writing or the stories she tells. They are, however, free of swearing and sex, which might age them in the eyes of publishers. These books are not just for young folks.

When I saw Shannon Hale in person, she spoke to her motivations in becoming a writer for young people. She talked about how much reading meant to her as a child, and how she loved the stories of journeys. She compared that to all of the literary classics she was made to read in college, beautifully composed, but lacking in plot and story. As an author, she aims to compose books that do both, that can be both quality literature and entirely fun to read, told in a classic story arc. To my mind, she succeeds beautifully.

One of the largest themes of Princess Academy is that of class. Those in Mount Eskel live far from the rest of Danland. They have their own customs and interests. Their sole source of income is from the mining of linder, the best building stone in the land. Only in Mount Eskel can linder be found, and those that live there build their lives around it. They even have their own form of speech for use within the quarry, which is so loud normal conversation cannot be used. Quarry-speech constitutes the only truly fantastical element of Princess Academy. This ability feels magical and wondrous, and I commend Shannon for devising it.

Despite their unique skills, those in Mount Eskel are looked down upon by the lowlanders, the traders that come through town. Seen as stupid blue collar workers, the mountain people get no respect. As such, they have just as little affection for the lowlanders, viewing them solely as hateful people out to mess with hardworking citizens. These tensions can be felt in any society, the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

In the Princess Academy, the possible princesses get an opportunity no Mount Eskel person has ever had before: the chance to obtain a traditional education. In Mount Eskel, the learning always ran to the mining of Linder, and other skills necessary to survive on the mountain. No one in the town knew how to read or much of anything about the history of their country. Princess Academy points to the value in book learning and of language, but also indicates the power and beauty of the work of the miners. Both are important, and learning can improve anyone and any profession.

Miri, our heroine, is a tiny girl, not strong enough to mine linder, who does not really fit in. Perhaps the most important theme of the book is about realizing one's own strengths. While Miri may have no physical strength, her extraordinary cleverness helps her and others through life. Even that, though, might not be her largest contribution. Miri has a wonderful attitude and the ability to make others laugh. She excels in finding common ground with others, in creating friendships. This makes her such a wonderful, touching heroine.

The other girls, too, have real personalities. Unlike The Selection, in which only a couple of girls receive much notice, Shannon manages in this short book, to make sure that we have a good sense for quite a few of the girls. She gives even the most annoying ones a real sense of self, and attributes them with motivations for acting the way they do. In fact, even the evil school marm, who reminds me quite a bit of Umbridge in her disdain for the students and draconian punishments, is not simply a figure of evil. Shannon develops fascinating, lovable, flawed characters.

The romance, which I just have to comment on, is so well done. Shannon does not go for the easiest and most obvious routes. Her books always make me feel and give me butterflies of happiness when the couples finally get together. She manages to make me swoon without even writing in a kissing scene. This, my friends, is true skill.

This was my second read through Princess Academy and I love it every bit as much as I did on my first time through. Shannon is one of my favorite authors for a reason.
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A Perfect Book. No, really.
First, it's a perfect book. By perfect, I don't mean "best," because that's totally up to you. No, by perfect, I mean that it's a self-contained, no-word-wasted, deliberately character driven story that works on some level for everyone. If you don't like Miri, the main character (though why on earth wouldn't you?), there are a host of secondary characters who are essential and unique in their own rights. Miri is fourteen at the start of the book, and she feels like a very useless person because her father refuses to let her work in the quarry like everyone else. By the end of the book, she has proven herself more than useful time after time, as circumstances set her apart and demand that someone take action. Never, however, when the going gets rough, do we wonder why the grown-ups don't just do something (as is often the case in children's stories - Harry Potter [as much as I love it] being an excellent example of the embarrassing unbelievability of adult apathy). Because they do. Every character has purpose, and everyone acts completely within their character. It's precise. It's perfect.

There's magic in this book, but it feels absolutely like nature. It's also essential, and in being essential becomes its own kind of character. Nature itself becomes a character, and that's a part of why the magic feels like nature.

In some ways one could consider this a moral book, because it's definitely about choices and their consequences. But it's realistic in that it acknowledges some choices might be right, but not best. Or might be dangerous, but right. Or might be wrong, but sympathetic. In other words, this book is about life, and that's why it's a "moral" book. It's as moral as life itself.

I've commented before on other books' uses of poetry, in part because I see so many unpublished manuscripts that use poetry badly. Shannon Hale uses poetry and song frequently in her books, and she does it just right. It's a part of the culture in the story, and it reminds you that the culture is different from your own while also inviting you to become familiar with it.

Both readers and writers should take a look at Shannon's blogging book club, both to learn more about the book itself, and to learn about the writing process. It's incredible to think of the journey a story takes from its first formations to its final printing, when you consider how pristine the results are. It's hard to imagine Miri's story going any other way.
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Better than Expected!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Trillian

I actually enjoyed this book more than I expected. The title and cover put me off a little but the plot summary caught my attention so I thought I'd give it a try. 

The main character, Miri, has wonderful depth, making you care about what happens to her. The descriptions are detailed enough that you can imagine the village and the academy without being over the top. The back-story is interesting and the concept of the plot is well thought out and written. 

This is definitely a book that falls in the fantasy genre rather than the fluffy romance genre which first impressions may suggest. A recommended read.


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For all ages
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Jen

This is such a great book! Shannon Hale's writing style is beautiful and lyrical (I'm in love with it) Even though the age group on this book says 8+, I am 14 and I enjoyed so much, even though I am older and I'm not really into fantasy (except for a few exceptions).  If you liked this, read her other books, the Books of Bayern (The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets and Forest Born, but I haven't read the latter because my library doesn't have it. Argghh!)  Such a good writer and a cool story!
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Give it a round of appluase!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by AB

Princess Academy was about a group of girls in line for beciming the nezt princess.
The price in their village needed a wife so they academy rounded up a group of girls to be trained for the next princess in waiting.
This book left me in suspense and i just could not put it down!
 Its full of suspense, kidnapping, romance, and drama!
One of the cutest books!  I highly recommend this book!
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how could i not have seen it before!!
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by nina

amazing i loved it i always hated princessy things ALWAYS but this book was so much better and you know imnot easily amused i recommend it to all readers even guys but i have to say i wish it was a series it would have been much nicer that way but still good <3
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princesses
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by vamp reviews

This book is about girls from a village high in the mountains, and the prince of the country is about to choose a bride, so they spend endless months training, some in it for the prince, most didn't have a chioce.  Right before the prince comes to choose his bride, a gang of thugs shows up to take the girls captive. Now they must rely on there wits to keep themselves alive.
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Shannon Hale Delivers Another Triumph
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Stacey @ book:thirty

Im in loooooooove. Thats all I can figure. Why else would I have stayed up until 2am to finish this book, tossed and turned, unable to sleep, feverish thoughts of if only I had enough money to buy the school 10 copies and give one to everyone I know! in my over-tired head? Why else would I have dreamed (when I was finally able to sleep) of the different characters in this book, longing to be the main character, Miri? I am dopey-eyed, slack-jawed, gimme more gimme more gimme more in loooooooove with this book!

Princess Academy can most easily be described as a take on the princess tale, wherein it is possible for a common young woman to marry the prince. But its so much more than that. Young Miri is the diminutive heroine of the story, living a small, quiet life with her family and villagers atop Mount Eskel. The village mines the mountain quarries for blocks of linder, a valuable commodity for building in their country of Danland. A representative from the royal court - located in the lowlands - comes to tell the village that it has been determined the princes bride shall come from their tiny village. Since none of the young women can read or write or engage in things like Conversation, Poise, and Diplomacy, the court creates a Princess Academy, where the girls can study for one year and potentially catch the eye (and hand) of the Prince at the year-end ball.

The year at the Academy changes everyone, especially Miri (named after the miri flower that grows in the linder-filled mountains). She comes to the academy with fear and hope lodged in her heart. She has always felt useless in her village - too small to work the quarry, too small to be of any consequence. Could the Academy offer her a chance to be important? What if she were chosen as the princess? Ultimately Miri discovers in herself hidden talents and abilities, and with a generous spirit goes about helping others to do the same. Throughout the year at the school, all the girls grow strong, intelligent, independent. They examine their relationships with each other, with their families, with the mountain itself.

Author Hale leans on Scandinavian roots to create her community in the book. The look, the feel of the village is Scandinavian, even down to the use of names like Doter and Peder and Britta. There are some incredibly poignant scenes, one which made me tear up. There is humor and action and suspense. There is a sweet love story, with touches of passion and fluttering hearts. The mountain is a character as real as any human in this story. This isnt really just a princess tale. Its a tale of friendship and love, loyalty, courage, individual gifts, the value of education. Id hate for anyone to look at the title and dismiss it as a fairy tale. I was thinking if I had chosen the title, it might be Miri Blooms. This book has certainly planted something very warm and whole in my own heart. Yes, I think Im in love!
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not your typical princesses
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by mearley

Girls from a rural community are chosen to attend an academy for training to become the next princess of the land. Competition is fierce, but one young lady discovers a talent that just may save the land.

Another great fairy tale from Shannon Hale. This one is original, not based on Grimms. Don't dismiss it as a fluffy princess book; the characters are interesting and well-written.
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