I seem to be far behind on my book reviews. Okay, not so far behind in terms of books that need reviewing so much as far behind in the chronology of my reviews. I have lots of books I read many moons ago that are getting neglected in favor of books I read only a few moons ago. In the interests of not letting those poor books slip into the abyss of the unreviewed, I think it's time to take a stab at some reviewlettes and get the juices flowing.
It's probably safe to give Princess Academy by Shannon Hale a reviewlette, because I've already talked about it so much. Really, I read this book for last year's fall Readathon, and it was the perfect book. It's all about Miri who lives on Mount Eskel where all the villagers have to work quarrying valuable linder from the mountain to survive. Her father won't let her work in the quarry, so Miri always struggles with feeling somehow less than the rest of her townspeople, despite being clever and brave. When royals arrive from the lowlands with news that the next princess of Danland will hail from Mount Eskel, the girls of the village are taken away to be schooled, polished, and made fit for a prince. At the academy, Miri struggles at first but then finds her chance to shine.
I'd heard plenty of great things about Shannon Hale's books, and if Princess Academy is any indication, they're all true. Princess Academy is tightly plotted, filled with brave, strong-willed girls for characters (most of all Miri!) who make the best of a complicated situation, and has an absolutely fantastic "knowledge is power" message that is never too heavy-handed. If you're anything like me, you might find yourself initially put off by the notion of a book about princesses in training. Don't be. This book and these would-be princesses defy expectations and stereotypes alike!
first volume (Thanks, Harper It!). I'll admit, I didn't like this one quite as much as the first one, but it's still got plenty to recommend it. The stories are, at most, a sentence long but can make you contemplate for much longer. Some I related to, some I laughed at, others just confused me. The illustrations that accompany each story are whimsical, bizarre, clever, most well-suited to the story they represent. It's a book that can easily be read in a sitting, but one that you might find yourself wanting to spend more time on. I think, perhaps, that I didn't love this one quite as much as the first because I didn't find so many stories that I felt spoke directly to me, but I'd still recommend grabbing both volumes. Chances are you'll find at least a little of yourself in each. (Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.)