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Princess Academy Hardcover – June 16, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 383 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Princess Academy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-9–The thought of being a princess never occurred to the girls living on Mount Eskel. Most plan to work in the quarry like the generations before them. When it is announced that the prince will choose a bride from their village, 14-year-old Miri, who thinks she is being kept from working in the quarry because of her small stature, believes that this is her opportunity to prove her worth to her father. All eligible females are sent off to attend a special academy where they face many challenges and hardships as they are forced to adapt to the cultured life of a lowlander. First, strict Tutor Olana denies a visit home. Then, they are cut off from their village by heavy winter snowstorms. As their isolation increases, competition builds among them. The story is much like the mountains, with plenty of suspenseful moments that peak and fall, building into the next intense event. Miri discovers much about herself, including a special talent called quarry speak, a silent way to communicate. She uses this ability in many ways, most importantly to save herself and the other girls from harm. Each girl's story is brought to a satisfying conclusion, but this is not a fluffy, predictable fairy tale, even though it has wonderful moments of humor. Instead, Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home.–Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Miri would love to join her father and older sister as a miner in Mount Eskel's quarry. Not a glamorous aspiration for a 14-year-old, perhaps, but the miners produce the humble village's prize stone, linder, and mining is a respected occupation that drives the local economy. When the local girls are rounded up to compete for the hand of the kingdom's prince, Miri, the prize student in the Princess Academy, gets her chance to shine. In addition to her natural intelligence and spunk, she discovers an intuitive, and at times unspoken, language that grew out of work songs in the mines and uses linder as a medium. With this "quarry-speech" giving a boost to her courage and intelligence, Miri leads 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. Hale nicely interweaves feminist sensibilities in this quest-for-a-prince-charming, historical-fantasy tale. Strong suspense and plot drive the action as the girls outwit would-be kidnappers and explore the boundaries of leadership, competition, and friendship. Anne O'Malley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: Princess Academy
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; First Edition edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582349932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582349930
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (383 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Let's face it. The princess-in-training plot is a little overused, and as a result, it's sort of tired reading for most people who've read a lot of children's lit.

And that is precisely why Princess Academy by Shannon Hale is essential reading. If a novel that's written in a seemingly tired subgenre manages to win a major award as this one did, something new and amazing must have happened there so as to overcome the reading audience's prejudice.

And Princess Academy was an original and amazing read. It was entirely worthy of being named a Newbery Honor award; in fact, it should have won the top award.

The main character, Miri, is fascinating. Bold, courageous, smart, funny. She's an utter joy to read about. As is the culture that Hale has created for the novel.

And there's nothing tired about this plot. Hale echoes some of the princess fairy tale conventions, but she's really remade this fairy tale story quite successfully. Just when you think you've got the plot pegged, there's a twist that throws you. A relationship develops as you didn't think it would, or a surprising enemy arises. It's an entirely involving story.

The story contains surprising layers of meaning, too. The relationships have depth, and there are valuable social messages here.

It's a really strong novel, definitely the best book I've read this year (regardless of genre).
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Format: Hardcover
"So what won the Newbery this year?"

"Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins".

"Uh-huh. Is it any good?"

"Yep. It's nice".

"So what else got awards?"

"Well, there was something called Whittington by Alan Armstrong, Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and of course The Princess Academy..."

"The PRINCESS Academy? Oh, ick, yuck, puke!"

"...by Shannon Hale. You've read it?"

"Well...no, not exactly. But how good could anything called The Princess Academy be?"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a rough equivalent of several conversations I've had with various people in regards to Shannon Hale's latest little nugget of gold. Say the words "Princess Academy" to the well-read and instantly their faces scrunch up and either the word "ew" or the word "ugh" emits from their lips. Ask them if they've read the book themselves and you'll undoubtedly get a quick shake of the head. It isn't the actual book they don't like. It's the title. I imagine there must have been some long conversations over at Bloomsbury Children's Books when this title was proposed. On the one hand, if you put the word "Princess" in a title you can link it the oh-so profitable "Princess Diaries", Disney "Princess" line, and even the "Royal Diaries" line of books. On the other hand, you're going to lose numerous parents, educators, librarians, masculine readers, and other members of society who take one look at the title and brush it off. I gave the book a long hard look before I plunged into it. This I admit freely.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful tale for all ages, full of hope, exploring our hearts' desires, daily struggles, human relationships, and finding our way in this world. Soul searching, while attempting to discover meaning in life, is very much a part of this age-old story retold so beautifully by Ms. Hale. The girls' hope to be chosen by the prince as his princess is something we can all relate to.

While the story recognizes deeper and larger issues such as how society views differing classes and the often overwhelming and almost hopeless struggle to achieve success (or what we believe to be success), the fairy tale nature of this book makes it charming and engaging, presenting only gentle and subtle messages.

Though this story likely will appeal mainly to girls, it is an entertaining tale for all ages and peoples. Even boys and men should be encouraged to read this book, if only to gain a greater understanding of girls and women - their hopes, dreams, reasoning, and challenges.

Ms. Hale tells a timeless tale which proves that girls never really change. Times change, and surroundings change, but girls never really change. I truly believe that "a fairy lives in every girl's heart." Having read The Princess Academy, I now also believe that every girl is a princess, even grown up girls.

J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles
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Format: Hardcover
This coming of age story is appealing for the characters and for the connection in their lives to the mountain. I am always fascinated by books about schools and children, as I find it very interesting to see what adults consider important to teach children and how. Nevertheless, the important thing here isn't really the school, but is rather the lure of the fancy "lowlander" life vs. the more simple life of the people on the mountain, whose main source of income is the rock quarry.

The only thing I didn't particularly care for was the resolution of the life of the character Britt. The explanation of her circumstances was a bit too facile and abrupt.

This is not a glitzy book with modern royalty obsession, though it does cover some of the same territory: learning manners, etiquette, and how to behave at a ball. The emphasis here, though, is on empowering rural mountain people through reading and education in commerce to make their lives better. Mira, the main character, and the other girls learn to read and ultimately improve the lives of their entire community.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book. Some books I feel I SHOULD enjoy and struggle to finish, but this one I read straight through, putting aside all other distractions. That has to say something about the book.
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