Focus on the Family

Princess Academy

A book review for parents

This modern fairy tale by Shannon Hale is published by Bloomsbury USA and is written for kids ages 9 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.



Plot Summary


Life is quiet in Miri's mining community until a delegate from the lowlands arrives and announces the prince will marry a girl from her region. Since the girls on Miri's mountain are considered rough and uncultured, the lowlanders establish a year-long preparatory princess academy, which every girl between ages 13 and 18 must attend. Initially, Miri and her friends are reluctant to go; the academy is located three hours from home and run by a harsh woman named Olana. But as Miri discovers the joy of learning, she begins to wonder what it might be like to be a princess. Amid events like sparring with her teacher, meeting the prince and surviving a bandit attack, Miri must decide whether she wants to become royalty or remain loyal to her mountain home.



Christian Beliefs


None, though the mountain people believe in a "creator god."



Authority Roles


Miri's affectionate father is extremely protective of her and won't let her work in the mines like the others. She later learns it is because Miri's mother died in a mining accident. The adults in town behave with a respectful, parental demeanor toward all the children. Olana initially provides harsh punishments for the academy girls, including hitting them and locking them in a rat-infested closet for hours. Although she softens a bit and earns the girls' respect, she ultimately admits that she lied to the girls (telling them the princess would get a fancy house for her family) to get them to work harder.



Other Belief Systems


After days of fasting, the priests of the creator god perform a rite that helps them decide which region of the kingdom the future princess will come from.



Profanity/Graphic Violence


Bandits hold the girls captive in the academy for days, tying them up and injuring those who rebel.



Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality


Peder kisses Miri on the cheek.



Awards


Newbery Honor Book, 2006; ALA Notable Children's Book, 2007; Beehive Award, 2007; New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing; Publishers Weekly Cuffie Awards, 2005; and more.



Discussion Topics


If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:


Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.