When Candlewick Press offered us a review copy of The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, I said yes! Because who wouldn’t want to read this? Incognito princess fighting monsters? Perfect! Art by LeUyen Pham? Even better!
When I brought it out for storytime, Boy Detective’s eyes lit up. I tried only reading part of it that night, but it was no good. He wouldn’t let me stop until the end. And as the back cover closed, he asked, anguished “IS BOOK TWO OUT YET?!”
Son, I’m sorry, but the first book just came out in October. Cue loud dramatic sighs and complaints about the unfairness of the world. (It’s like he’s a teenager already.)
Princess Magnolia’s double life is right up there with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman or Peter Parker/Spider-Man. She never knows when her glitter-stone ring monster alarm will go off. Today, unfortunately, it’s during tea with sneaky Duchess Wigtower! Can she protect the kingdom and her own secret at the same time?
(Side note: I love how my kid is old enough to get jokes like character names now. I read “Duchess Wigtower” and he stared at the page for a minute, blinked a couple of times, then started cracking up over her extra-tall hair.)
The text is a little clunky in parts for an adult to read out loud, as it’s clearly written to keep it simple for kids reading to themselves. But if you can resist a unicorn named Frimplepants, then I don’t know how to help you.
What I loved about this book, aside from the humor, is that Princess Magnolia is just as real as her alter ego. She doesn’t have to choose which girl she wants to be. She can excel at dressing pretty and kicking monster tail. I see my nieces in Princess Magnolia. Sports and nail polish? Sewing and computers? Yes please, all of that and more. I also see my son, who has long hair and loves rhinestones, plus builds Lego death rays and does jiu jitsu. In short, Princess Magnolia is complex, just like every kid!
This book should have HUGE buzz around it, so I’m trying to do my part. You can too! Please share this post, request the book at your local library, buy it as a gift for the kid (or princess or monster-fighter) in your life, whatever you can do is great!
There’s even a Halloween costume idea for Princess Magnolia that Candlewick shared on Pinterest if you want to get started planning early.
If you’ve read it, let me know if you’re a bigger fan of the “Sparkle Slam” or the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash” for keeping hungry monsters at bay. We can’t decide!
And if you have any other chapter books to recommend, comment and let me know.