Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Also, try searching by "historical fiction" if you're looking for novels at a certain time period...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

This book reminds me of the Penderwicks (reviewed earlier) in terms of being a wholesome, engaging book, especially for girls.

Miri, the main character, is a small mountain girl who is sent to the Princess Academy along with all the marriageable girls in her village. This group is to be educated and trained as suitable brides for the Prince. Royal priests have read in the stars that the Prince’s future bride would be from Miri’s village, and these mountain girls are not yet versed in the ways of the court. Their tutor has several months to prepare them.

This is not your average fairy tale. It is a refreshingly honest story about the mixed feelings of the girls and their hope of becoming a princess mingled with trepidation about what that would truly mean to them. There is an authenticity about the girls’ jealousies, competiveness, and ties of love and loyalty that bind them in their small community.

It has plot twists, strong characters, and admirable virtues woven into an engaging story. The romance is done just-right for a tween crowd.

One odd quirk is the “quarry-speech” that Miri and the mountain people can use to communicate. Quarry-speech is a way of communicating without speech that the mountain people can call upon. It involves being able to send a memory/visual picture to another mountaineer. Though it technically seems like some quasi-ESP experience, it read to me as fitting with the fantasy-like atmosphere of the novel. The villagers developed this as a way to stay safe in the quarry where they mine for Linder; the speech is necessary for them to communicate when they can’t be heard for the safety of the workers.

SAFETY RATING: 3 Vatican Flags

(Hat-tip to Shae; one of my best tween book-finders)


4ddintx October 30, 2009 at 6:42 AM  

My 11 year old daughter and I both read this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks so much for all of your reviews. This is the first time I've posted, but I've been reading your blog for several months. It has been a great resource for our family.

Thanks and God Bless!

Tabitha Spitzer

Tween Lit Crit October 30, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

Thank you for the encouragement! May God bless you, too.

P.S. We were also delighted to find this author wrote the graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge. My 10 yr. old girl loves graphic novels, but so many of the ones we've seen have problematic content...

4ddintx October 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM  

Have you read the Baby Mouse graphic novels? One of my daughters did (I have 6 daughters). I didn't read those along with her--I hope I didn't goof on that one. I will check out the Rapunzel's revenge.

Shannon Hale also wrote a book for adults called "Austenland" about a woman obsessed with Jane Austen novels. It's a light, fluffy, romance with nothing more erotic than kissing. I enjoyed the "brain candy" aspect of it.


Tween Lit Crit October 30, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

I have been letting my 8 year old read Babymouse, and I've only skimmed it, but it looked fine. Maybe it's time for a graphic novel section of the blog...
I think Sonic Hedgehog looks OK, too, graphic novel-wise, but I've only skimmed that one, too.

Thanks for the book idea of Austenland. It sounds like a great vacation book for me. And it's time for a big-book break... :)

Tween Lit Crit October 30, 2009 at 6:54 PM  

p.s. 6 girls is wonderful. That would be fun! I have been blessed with 3 so far; each one delightful in her own way.

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