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Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

April 3, 2007

Princess Academy book cover

I enjoyed every moment of reading Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Now I’m eyeing our copy of River Secrets. Shannon Hale’s official site has insight and deleted scenes. It’s awesome when writers give you some background on their writing process.

14 year old Miri feels different and isolated from the rest of Mt. Eskel. Her father doesn’t want her working in the linder quarry where the nearly the whole village spends their days. Miri thinks her father doesn’t want her in the quarry because she is small and weak. Miri discovers she has different strengths when she begins to attend the Princess Academy.

The priests of Danland have proclaimed that the crown prince’s future wife will be from Mt. Eskel. This tiny village is at the far reaches of Danland and is considered a territory and not an official province. The Princess Academy is established to train the girls of Mt. Eskel to become suitable for marriage to the crown prince.

The girls first learn how to read and write then move on to other topics such as diplomacy, commerce, history and conversation. Miri although reticent at first learns quickly and soon excels to the top of the class. She develops friendships with other girls in her class and feels less isolated. Moreover with her new knowledge of commerce, Miri is confident that she can improve the lives of the villagers on Mt. Eskel. But what about becoming a princess? Will Miri leave her home behind for a new life as a princess?

Although the majority of HSPLS (Hawaii State Public Library System) has this book in J (Juvenile), and it’s a Newbery Honor book, I’m proud to have it in my YA collection. I’ve seen many a high schooler pick it up. I enjoyed it and I’m pushing 30. Hale also discretely infuses some great SAT words into the mix. Did I mention it’s extremely well-written? You won’t see any sloppy grammatical errors or strange phrasings in Princess Academy.

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