Monday, June 13, 2011

The Princess Academy

by Shannon Hale
Ages: 11+

Miri, a 14 year old girl, wants to be a miner with her father and older sister in the quarry.  Mining linder (stone) is the way of the life for the town of Mount Eskel.  All the local girls are rounded up to attend a princess academy, when the prophecies state the prince will choose his wife from their town.  Miri and the other girls are taught how to read, write, and act like a princess.  In addition to her natural intelligence and high spirit, she discovers a special language "quarry-speech" that grew out of work songs in the mines and uses linder as a medium.  Miri struggles to make friends with other girls because of the natural competition to become princess.  She also struggles with her own feelings of wanting to become princess and her feelings for Peder and her village.  Miri is able to lead her classmates in the fight against being treated as social inferiors in the academy, at the same time educating herself in ways that will better the village.  The prince will choose a princess, but who and what happens?

This book is a Newbery Honor Winner in 2006.  Hale is a great story teller.  I really enjoyed this book because it was a fairy-tale with updated feminist ideas.  It reminds me of the story of Mulan.  This book is for younger girls.  It teaches the importance of education and be true to yourself and dreams.