New adventure about time travelPrincess Academy

by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury USA
Ages 9-up
250 pages

Fourteen-year-old Miri lives with her Pa and older sister Marda on Mount Eskel, a lonely imaginary land of Danland kingdom. Miri's family and the villagers quarry a special stone from the mountain. Some of the kids even help, but not Miri. Her over-protective pa won't let her do such difficult work. He's had that attitude since Miri's mother died. Miri --- named after a small blue mountain flower --- believes the reason is because she's smaller than most girls her age.

One day, a royal delegate arrives to announce that the prince is searching for a bride, and that the priests have divined that the next princess will come from Mount Eskel. Before the prince arrives to choose his bride, the delegate says, all eligible girls must attend an academy to learn to be a princess. The villagers hesitate, but eventually agree to have the girls attend the academy.

The girls enter the roughly-hewn school and Miri is thrilled to be doing something with her days. But this euphoria is short-lived under the demanding schedule of the tutor named Olana. Miri quickly realizes that not having worked in the quarry puts her at a severe disadvantage -- she does not have the ability of quarry speech that other girls have gained from their own quarry work.

Then the prince makes a decision that risks them all but the heroine is a surprisel. If you like Princess Academy, try Goose Girl, another story about a remarkable girl against all odds.

Review by D.

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