Mini Reviews: The Princess Academy and The Ordinary Princess

Princess AcademyPrincess AcademyPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

The first in a two-book series, but this is quite readable as a stand-alone. I was a little bit afraid that the story was going to be completely predictable, but trusted that a Newbery Honor book would have more to offer than that. Happily, that’s the case, and this ended up being a very cute tale.

It has some fantasy elements, even beyond the “regular girl is going to be made a princess” plot. That didn’t bother me, but if you don’t want stories that include supernatural elements I’d skip this one. I love fantasy stories, and am happy to have discovered a new-to-me author I enjoyed so much.

Publisher’s Description:
Miri lives on a mountain where for generations her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.

The Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye by M. M. Kaye

I found this on a list of recommended fairy tales, and couldn’t resist giving it a try. It’s a very cute story appropriate for younger readers, although there is at least one section that is quite dated. No matter, the book as a whole is charming if a bit simplistic, and I enjoyed reading about a princess who isn’t stunningly beautiful and instantly loved by all who see her. It stands up well to being read for the first time as an adult, and the illustrations scattered throughout the text are appealing.

Publisher’s Description:
Unlike her six beautiful sisters, Princess Amy has mousy brown hair and freckles, and she would rather embark on an enchanting adventure in the forest than marry a prince. By the author of “Shadow of the Moon.”

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  1. Newbery winners are almost surprisingly lovely. I used to read these all the time when I was younger. One of my all-time favorite books as a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins and really anything else by Scott O’Dell. Hmmm, I think I am sensing a trip to the library! 🙂

    • I know – I don’t know why I didn’t have more faith in it as a Newbery Honor book. Just got a little bit scared because of all the princess dreck that seems to be so popular right now.

      Someday I’d like to make a more concerted effort to read all of the Newbery books (winners and honor books), and I flirted briefly with making progress on that a goal for the year. Yeah, good thing I didn’t, but someday…

  2. I did the same thing with the Princess Academy, until one of the kids brought it home from the library, and I picked it up to give it a quick screen and was pleasantly surprised by an enjoyable story. The audio book is very well done, too. Really enjoy your blog, it’s a great place to find new reads.

  3. The Princess Academy has some great characters, I really enjoyed it!


  1. […] from the library. Why did I get it: I love fairy tale retellings, and I liked Hale’s Princess Academy quite a […]

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