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Princess Academy (2007)

Princess Academy (2007)
4 of 5 Votes: 2
1599900734 (ISBN13: 9781599900735)
bloomsbury usa childrens
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Princess Academy (2007)
Princess Academy (2007)

About book: Originally reviewed on The Book SmugglersMiri is a young girl that has lived all her life on Mount Eskel, an unforgiving mountain that reaches far above the lowlands of Danlow. Here, Miri lives a quiet mundane life with her Pa and elder sister, Marda, tending to the family's goats and meager stores. Forbidden from working in the quarry where all other mountainers, male and female alike, mine linder - a rare, marble-like stone and Eskel's only natural resource - Miri has always felt separate from those of her village. Ever since coming of age to work in the mines, Miri has felt this exclusion bitterly, ashamed that her father finds Miri too small and weak to contribute to the mountain's only source of commerce. With the imminent arrival of the traders from the lowlands below and impending winter, Miri feels this slight even more sorely, but she's determined to make a good deal to keep her family warm and fed through the coming hard months. When the traders arrive, however, they bring unwelcome noble lowlanders with them. See, the mountainers and city folk of the lowlands have always remained separate, minding their own business - to those of Mount Eskel, the lowlanders are arrogant and soft, and they are happy to stay out of each others' way...until now. The King's priests in the capitol below have ordained, as is custom, the province from which the new princess will be selected - unprecedentedly, their readings have pointed to Mount Eskel. Because there are no noble families on the remote mountainside, all girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen are to leave their families immediately and begin attending a haphazard Princess Academy at the base of the mountain, where they will learn to read, write, and be trained in manners and courtly ways. Once their training is complete, the prince will travel to Eskel and, after a grand ball held at the Academy, will choose his future bride.Like all the other eligible girls from her village, Miri is yanked from her home and thrown into life at the Academy under the harsh tutelage of the school's headmistress. Soon, Miri finds herself locked in fierce competition with the other girls to emerge at the top of class - but more importantly than drawing the prince's eye, Miri is enamored with the knowledge she amasses at the academy, and what she discovers about herself along the way.Well guys, color me embarrased. I cannot believe it took me so long to read Princess Academy because - wouldn't you know it? - I loved this book. I was hesitant to read this title from Shannon Hale, despite loving the Books of Bayern so much, because the title sounds a little...well, silly. I confess, I did not want to read Princess Academy because the idea of girls competing to get a Prince's attention makes me a little nauseated. Of course, that's not really what Princess Academy is about, not at all. In truth, this book is about a young girl who discovers the world is so much larger than she'd ever previously imagined, and her own place in it. It's about memory, tradition, and the bonds of not only family and friendship, but of the kinship of community. All of these are wonderful things, executed to pitch-perfection by Hale throughout the novel. Add to this, a strong fantastical element through the power of the Eskelian's linder stones, and a tone that is reminiscent of Hale's other fantasy novels and the magic of Tamora Pierce - and you've got a very deserving Newbery Honor book.I think I could wax poetical about Princess Academy for a while - so I'll just pull out a few bits that I loved the most. Our protagonist, Miri, is a heroine to remember, with her own insecurities and strengths. Miri's growth, from a girl that covered up her insecurities with a laugh and a quick turn of phrase, to a wise and reasoned leader, is fantastic and a driving force behind Princess Academy. Her relationship with the other girls in the academy, from the challenges of the snippier older girls like the competitive Katar and the quiet friendship of orphan Britta, are similarly wonderful and memorable. I think what I loved most of all, though, was watching Miri's wonder as she learns to write and to read, about commerce and debate, and how she applies those lessons to the betterment of her fellow peers and Eskelians.Basically, I loved this book. I loved it so very much that immediately upon finishing it, I eagerly picked up and devoured Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, to continue Miri's adventures. And I'm very, very happy to eat crow because Princess Academy is all kinds of wonderful. If you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend it.

This was probably the 5th Middle Grade book I bought and read (I started with the Newbery winners) and if I'd had any doubts that this genre could have beautiful prose and deep, powerful stories they were erased here. Don't be fooled by the title into thinking this is some fluffy fantasy about pretty dresses and fairy godmothers. The story is based off a fairytale, and there is a slight magical feel, but this is an emotional, rich story about a poor, uneducated mountain village that learns they are chosen to have a "princess academy" to prepare one of their girls to become the next princess.We follow Miri, the youngest and smallest member of her family, who's been deemed by her father to be too fragile to help in the quarries that provide the only income for the village. As she struggles with feelings of uselessness and doubts her father's love, she's shipped off to the new princess academy to learn how to read and write and use proper social etiquette. And while she's there, she has her eyes opened to the power of education and discovers how many ways her life could be better if she applied her newly acquired knowledge. I know that may sound like a simple story, but the plot actually takes a number of surprisingly intense turns that keeps you turning the pages, needing to know what will happen next. And the writing is gorgeous. No really, it's GORGEOUS. Shannon Hale writes the way I *wish* I could write, but I'm just not lyrical or poetic like that. She is a master. *bows*Obviously I love the book and I HIGHLY recommend it. I love all of Shannon Hale's books, but this one is definitely my favorite.
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Diane Librarian
Every now and then I like to read a good children's book, especially if it has a smart heroine. Princess Academy was perfect reading for a Sunday afternoon. It tells the story of Miri, a 14-year-old girl living on a mountain that mines a valuable stone. One day, it's announced that the prince will choose his next princess from Miri's village, and all of the girls are sent to an academy to be educated. Miri is a spunky girl: she studies hard, she tries to make friends and she stands up for the rights of others. What I especially liked is how the author emphasized education — Miri finds a way to use her new knowledge to help her family and the village.By the end of the book, it didn't really matter who became princess, because Miri had found her purpose in life.Highly recommended for anyone who wants a delightful dose of girl power.
V. Gingerich
Another book that makes me go, "Where have you been all my life?" Expect lots of similes and other figures of speech, lovely and well drawn characters, and a fantasy setting that feels real as the page. Miri fights against prejudice and ambition and worries about things like fitting in and how important she really is to her family. She struggles to know the difference between being happy and being chosen for something important, and, as a reader, I struggled, too. I really wanted Miri to be chosen as princess. I really wanted Miri to stay Miri, out on the hills with the goats. Perhaps my favorite angle was how Miri learned things at the academy that helped her help her family and village. School rules!“It doesn't seem to matter what we think...The prince will come up here and look at us as if we're barrels in a trader's wagon. And if I'm salt pork and he doesn't care for salt pork, then there's nothing I can do.”
This book has great re-read quality. Even rereading it twice in say, a month, like I sort of am, is worth it. You catch little details and tiny foreshadowings you don't catch the first time around............October 14th 2010........ Shannon Hale's books affect me in very odd ways. Occasionally I have to wipe tears out of my eyes. I squeal and laugh and pound my feet on the floor. I have just finished re-reading two of her books in a row, and I am practically in a state of overload. Her books are rich, like drinking cocoa as thick as cake batter. Reading one of her books is as pleasurable as two. I think about scenes for days, skimming the book for my favorite lines. I walk down the halls and can't stop smiling. Her books are a full-immersion expierience. I can't do anything else when I read these books; usually I read when I eat, or while I'm half listening to a conversation going on behind me. You can't do that with Shannon Hale's books, all you can do is sit in a chair and hope you don't come back from Danland suddenly, with a horrendous cramp. You can't let your attention wander, because you will miss some delicious detail.
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