Reviews for Princess Academy
Booklist Reviews 2005 June #1
Gr. 6-9. Miri would love to join her father and older sister as a miner in Mount Eskel's quarry. Not a glamorous aspiration for a 14-year-old, perhaps, but the miners produce the humble village's prize stone, linder, and mining is a respected occupation that drives the local economy. When the local girls are rounded up to compete for the hand of the kingdom's prince, Miri, the prize student in the Princess Academy, gets her chance to shine. In addition to her natural intelligence and spunk, she discovers an intuitive, and at times unspoken, language that grew out of work songs in the mines and uses linder as a medium. With this "quarry-speech" giving a boost to her courage and intelligence, Miri leads her classmates in the fight against being treated as social inferiors in the academy, at the same time educating herself in ways that will better the village. Hale nicely interweaves feminist sensibilities in this quest-for-a-prince-charming, historical-fantasy tale. Strong suspense and plot drive the action as the girls outwit would-be kidnappers and explore the boundaries of leadership, competition, and friendship. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
When the royal priests of Danland divine the prince's future bride will be from remote Mount Eskel, a princess academy is established to prepare the candidates. Miri, short in stature, soon proves herself to be a natural leader. Hale's writing is clear and her descriptions vivid. Her imaginary world, peopled by strong yet vulnerable characters, is quietly memorable. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 July #2
There are many pleasures to this satisfying tale: a precise lyricism to the language ("The world was as dark as eyes closed" or "Miri's laugh is a tune you love to whistle") and a rhythm to the story that takes its tropes from many places, but its heart from ours. Miri is very small; her father has never let her work in the linder stone quarries where her village makes its living and she fears that it's because she lacks something. However, she's rounded up, with the other handful of girls ages 12 to 17, to be taught and trained when it's foreseen that the prince's bride will come from their own Mount Eskel. Olana, their teacher, is pinched and cruel, but Miri and the others take to their studies, for it opens the world beyond the linder quarries to them. Miri seeks other learning as well, including the mindspeech that ties her to her people, and seems to work through the linder stone itself. There's a lot about girls in groups, both kind and cutting; a sweet boy; the warmth of friends, fathers and sisters; and the possibility of being chosen by a prince one barely knows. The climax involving evil brigands is a bit forced, but everything else is an unalloyed joy. (Fantasy. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 August #2
Readers enchanted by Hale's Goose Girl are in for an experience that's a bit more earthbound in this latest fantasy-cum-tribute to girl-power. Cheerful and witty 14-year-old Miri loves her life on Mount Eskel, home to the quarries filled with the most precious linder stone in the land, though she longs to be big and strong enough to do quarry work like her sister and father. But Miri experiences big changes when the king announces that the prince will choose a potential wife from among the village's eligible girls-and that said girls must attend a new Princess Academy in preparation. Princess training is not all it's cracked up to be for spunky Miri in the isolated school overseen by cruel Tutor Olana. But through education-and the realization that she has the common mountain power to communicate wordlessly via magical "quarry-speech"-Miri and the girls eventually gain confidence and knowledge that helps transform their village. Unfortunately, Hale's lighthearted premise and underlying romantic plot bog down in overlong passages about commerce and class, a surprise hostage situation and the specifics of "quarry-speech." The prince's final princess selection hastily and patly wraps things up. Ages 9-up. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 October
Gr 5-9 -The thought of being a princess never occurred to the girls living on Mount Eskel. Most plan to work in the quarry like the generations before them. When it is announced that the prince will choose a bride from their village, 14-year-old Miri, who thinks she is being kept from working in the quarry because of her small stature, believes that this is her opportunity to prove her worth to her father. All eligible females are sent off to attend a special academy where they face many challenges and hardships as they are forced to adapt to the cultured life of a lowlander. First, strict Tutor Olana denies a visit home. Then, they are cut off from their village by heavy winter snowstorms. As their isolation increases, competition builds among them. The story is much like the mountains, with plenty of suspenseful moments that peak and fall, building into the next intense event. Miri discovers much about herself, including a special talent called quarry speak, a silent way to communicate. She uses this ability in many ways, most importantly to save herself and the other girls from harm. Each girl's story is brought to a satisfying conclusion, but this is not a fluffy, predictable fairy tale, even though it has wonderful moments of humor. Instead, Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home.-Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX [Page 161]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 August
In her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri is much smaller than her peers and not allowed to work in the quarry alongside the other able-bodied villagers. Instead she keeps house for her widower father and her sister and hopes to strike a good deal with the trader who visits periodically. When a royal messenger arrives one day to tell the villagers that the country's priests have determined that the prince's bride will come from their region, the village girls go away to school to be educated for royal life. Despite the bleak, strict nature of their school, Miri comes away from the experience with knowledge that she uses to change the economy and quality of life for her village The imaginative setting for the story makes it timeless and universal. Hale creates a parallel universe where things are just familiar enough to recognize yet remain unique to the story. In their isolation, the mountain people have learned to communicate telepathically, which contributes to the magical aura of the story. Miri's emerging leadership at the school and her choice to use her education for the benefit of her village are refreshing takes on a classic setup. In the end, she gets her man, having known all along that the prince was not for her. This new classic will have a place with leisure readers and in the classroom.-Jenny Ingram. 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.