Author: Shannon Hale
Interest Level: grades 5 – 9
Newberry Honor Book
ALA Notable Children’s Book
In Princess Academy, Miri comes from an isolated mountain town where all the people quarry a stone called lindor. It is determined that the prince of their nation will marry a girl from her town. All of the girls from age 12 to 18 are sent to a special academy to learn how to do everything from read to converse to matters of diplomacy. After a year at the academy a ball is held where the girls will meet the prince and he is to choose his future bride. Who will he choose?
I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not, it is a genre I don’t usually care for, but I did really enjoy it. The story had enough consistency that the fantasy elements were believable. The characters were realistic, but likeable. Some were “bad”, some were “good”, but most were both. The story had some good surprises and kept me wanting to read through to the end.
One of my favorite things about this book was when Miri was learning to read. Shannon Hale describes it this way, “Once words had been invisible to Miri, as unknown and uninteresting as the movements of the spider inside a rock wall. Now they appeared all around her. Standing up demanding notice on the spines of books in the classroom, marking the barrels of food in the kitchen storeroom, carved into a lindor foundation stone.” To me this is the exact magic that teaching a child to read is all about. I love when my kids open up that door to reading and are able to discover for themselves all the amazing things that exist in books, both real and imaginative.
Ideas to Bring the Book to Life
Set up your own princess (or prince) school
Practice walking like a princess with a book on your head
Practice dancing and learn different dances.
Every little girl enjoys having a tea party. Sit around the table and learn skills of conversation, besides just talking to each other.
Learn about quarrying stone
Go to a stone building and see how it is built. Where are the corner stones? How was the foundation made?
Pull up videos on YouTube, of how stone is quarried. What does it look like inside of a quarry? What might be dangerous, or a challenge in a quarry?
Design a dress
In the book, the winner of the academy gets a special dress. Have your kids design what they would want their dress to look like.
Compare how much everyday items cost in simple terms
In the book, Miri finds out through reading that they are being underpaid for their lindor. They don’t have metal money up on the mountain, they do everything with bartering. So, this is a really abstract idea to her until she discovers the value of lindor in comparison to horses. Then it becomes concrete for her.
With your own kids, take two concrete items that they can recognize value in like oranges and a tablet and compare the cost of a tablet to a quantity of oranges. Or a hoverboard to a gallon of chocolate milk.
You could also give them a $20 budget and have them plan a dinner menu. Have them either go to the store or look up online and find all the ingredients that go in their menu, list them, and see if they can prepare their chosen menu within their budget.
Learn about places around the world
In the book, as the girls study, they learn about places throughout the kingdom that they never knew existed.
Where do your kids want to go? Look up those places and see what is beautiful about them and maybe what’s not beautiful. What is exciting? What would they want to see if they go there?
If they don’t know where they’d want to go, look up some places and see if you can find places they would want to go.
Discover natural resources where you live
Mount Eskel has the natural resource of the lindor stones which Miri discovers is actually incredibly rare.
What natural resources occur where you live?
Are they specific to there or can you find them in other places?
If it’s possible go see those resources.
Do a nature walk with your kids and pick up samples or pieces of different plants like flowers and trees and pine cones or whatever and then “take pictures” of them with SOLAR PAPER.