Princess Academy

by Shannon Hale

Paperback, 2015



Local notes

PB Hal


Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2015), Edition: Second Edition, New edition, 336 pages


While attending a strict academy for potential princesses with the other girls from her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri discovers unexpected talents and connections to her homeland.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

336 p.; 5.07 inches


1619636131 / 9781619636132



Media reviews

School Library Journal
Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home.
5 more
Publishers Weekly
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."
Kirkus Reviews
There are many pleasures to this satisfying tale: a precise lyricism to the language ... and a rhythm to the story that takes its tropes from many places, but its heart from ours.
Hale nicely interweaves feminist sensibilities in this quest-for-a-prince-charming, historical-fantasy tale.
Children's Literature
Sheilah Egan (Children's Literature)
Miri yearns to prove herself useful to her widowed father by working in the village quarry, but, he forbids this, thus cutting his daughter off from the bond of the villagers who earn their living carving stone on Mount Eskel. In this unusual blend of coming-of-age, adventure, fantasy, and fairy tale story Shannon Hale gives us a strong girl persona, wicked “outlaw outsiders,” corrupt business dealings, strict “princess trainers,” and a prince in need of a proper princess. Miri proves her worth to her father, the village, the head of the Academy itself, and to the fellow worthy of this quick-witted, hard-working “almost a woman.” The crux of the tale is the “quarry speech” used by the stone workers to communicate over the noise and confusion of the quarry, which is adapted by Miri in her desperation to save the village girls after they have been kidnapped by the outlaws. As usual, Hale ties her characters to the land in which they have been born and to Nature itself. This is an engaging, plain “good read” that just happens to be filled with life lessons about friendship, acceptance, courage, endurance, and finding the right path. Guard against dismissing this fantasy as more of the same old genre; there are a lot of fresh ideas and solid truths to be had in this finely-crafted novel. 2005, Bloomsbury, $16.95. Ages 12 up.
Jenny Ingram (VOYA, August 2005 (Vol. 28, No. 3)) 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. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Bloomsbury, 300p., $16.95. Ages 11 to 15.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nbmars
I got this book because I enjoyed The Actor and The Housewife so much, and so I sought out another book by Shannon Hale. I was not disappointed! This book is like a lovely, iridescent polished stone of linder, the fictional opaline marble quarried by the villagers of Mount Eskel. It has hidden facets from different angles that catch your eye and your heart and leave you with a sense of strength and beauty.

Most of the children in the village start work in the quarry at age 8, but Miri, named after the tiny pink flower that bloomed out of the cracks in the linder rocks, has never been allowed to work there. She thought it was because she was small for her age, and had been deemed inadequate. Now, at age 14, she learns she, along with all the other village girls between the ages of 12 to 17, must go to a “princess academy” to train to be acceptable as a potential bride for the Prince.

She takes leave of her father, older sister Marda, and lifelong crush Peder to make the 3-hour journey along with 19 other girls. While there, they are exposed not only to book learning for the first time, but to competition, cliques and jealousy, and unanticipated tests of courage and friendship. Only occasionally are they allowed to return to their village on breaks.

Miri may be one of the smallest children, but it is she who figures out the secret of the linder stone, and when the academy is in real danger, it is only her secret that can help save it.

Hale is a gifted writer of different genres that at first glance seem not to bear relation to one another. But all of her books are characterized by faith, good humor, and above all, the self-sufficiency and resilience of women and girls.

Her language often plays just the right note. At one village gathering, Peder has just kissed Miri on the cheek, then runs off:

"Miri did not move for three verses of the next bonfire song. A smile tugged at one corner of her mouth like a brook trout on a fishing line, but she was too staggered to give in to it."

In another instance, one of the girls at the academy, Katar, has just confessed to Miri about the source of her unhappiness:

"…Katar sobbed misery at her side. ’I’m sorry,’ Miri said again, hating how hollow those words sounded. Katar had given her a small gift by opening her heart and showing her pain. Miri tucked the moment in her own heart and hoped somehow to repay."

This book is not really about princesses, unless you define princess as a young lady who is not afraid to summon all of her assets to take on the world and make a difference.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member kthomp25
Miri is named for a small mountain flower. She is small and thinks perhaps her father finds her useless in the mining of linder, stone valued in the kingdom. She learns through her experiences that other girls face their own private issues; Katar whose father doesn't love her, Britta whose father forces her to live a lie, Esa who has a useless arm... Everyone has some impediment to happiness, especially if those things prevent a view of a broader picture of life.

The lessons stressed in the Academy about Conversation and Diplomacy are intriguing and useful.

Useful ideas, such as the the Rules for Diplomatic Negotiations:

State the Problem
Admit Your Own Error
State the Error of the Other Party
Propose Specific Compromises
Invite Mutual Acceptance
llustrate the Negarive Outcome of Refusal and Positive of Acceptance
Assert a Deadline for Acceptance

Repeat the Name
Ask Questions
Make Observations, Not Judgements
Return the Conversation to the Other Person
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LibraryThing member LeighAnneJensen
I chose this book to read out loud to my daughter. Since before she was born, I have read out loud to her every single night before bed, and we really enjoy that time together. I like to read her classics, and as she gets older, she likes to hear about people having adventures. A lot of adventure stories are either about boys, or they pair a boy with a girl. It's a rare and wonderful discovery to find a book that not only has a strong solo-female lead, but is beautifully written and fun to read. That is what Princess Academy was for both me and my daughter.

I really enjoyed reading about Miri. She is exactly the kind of role model I want for my daughter - someone open-minded, sensitive, driven, intelligent, kind, and thoughtful. The story itself was so enjoyable to read. My daughter was so sad to see the book end, and then she was very excited when I told her that this is actually just the first book in the series! We can't wait to get started on the second book, and are actually going to the bookstore tomorrow to pick it up.

We're both really looking forward to reading more about Miri and her adventures.
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LibraryThing member elbakerone
Princess Academy is a cute fairy-tale story perfect for youth or young adults but easily enjoyed as a light novel for grown readers too. The book tells the story of Miri, a young girl from a mountain village who feels useless to her town since she is forbidden to work in the rock quarry with her family. One day an emissary from the king comes to the mountain and reveals that the king's priests have determined that the prince's bride is to be chosen among the girls from Miri's village.

Miri and all her friends are sent to a special Princess Academy to learn the ways of royalty but as Miri progresses through the school she finds that, even more than becoming a Princess, what she really longs for is a place to belong. With themes of the importance and potential of all people, and with a story that is sweet and yet unpredictable, Princess Academy is a charming tale that deserves all the accolades showered upon it.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
High on Mount Eskel, all of the villagers help work linder blocks out of the quarry. Everyone, that is, except Miri. Her dad won't let her work in the quarry, leaving her feeling isolated and all too aware of her small stature. When a surprise emissary from the king arrives and declares that the prince's bride must be from Mount Eskel, all of the teenage girls are forced to attend a "princess academy" at the base of the mountain. Overseen by a tyrannical tutor, the girls are taught to read and drilled in the ways of proper society. Miri is torn - should she work hard to catch the prince's eye and leave the mountain, or use her new skills for the aid of her village? And how can she fit in with the other girls who have bonded in their quarry work?

This was a fast read, even at 314-pages long. I read it on one day. Princess Academy is a fun read, and the sort of book I would have adored when I was 10-12. However, as an adult I found the plot very predictable. I won't be keeping this one, but it was worth reading.
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LibraryThing member robincar
Fourteen-year-old Miri lives in an isolated mining village in the mountains. After the priests declare that the prince’s bride is to come from her village, Miri and the other village girls must attend an academy to prepare them for the possibility of being chosen by the prince as his bride. Once at the school, Miri discovers she has an interest in learning (although maybe not being a princess), but competition to be the best at the academy is fierce. The book’s plot is not as fluffy or shallow as the title might imply as the academy is not a wonderful fairy-tale place. Miri’s mountain culture is well-developed and richly imagined. It lends a good sense of depth and authenticity to the story. The book has quite the group of brave, spirited, and intelligent girls, including Miri. This is an excellent young adult fantasy novel of friendship, growing up, and finding one’s place in the world. The book also strongly emphasizes the importance of education and, especially, being able to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member mdomsky
The princess academy is set up near the foot of Mt. Eskel so that the girls of the quarry town will be suitable to meet the prince of Danland in one year's time. Priests have determined that the prince must marry a girl from Mt. Eskel, and so all the girls are forced to attend despite the hardship it places on the town. The tutor is a fierce woman, and the girls have a lot to learn, not only about being a princess, but about each other, and about the mountain itself. And do any of them really want to marry a stranger just so that they can be a princess? This is a really wonderful story with just a touch of magic. The ending ties everything up perhaps just a little too neatly, otherwise, I loved it… (more)
LibraryThing member dfullmer
This is a cute tale of a girl growing up in a village high in the mountains. They hew stone and trade with the villagers who come once a year. The girls find out that a special oracle has said that the prince will marry a girl from this village, so they are all taken to an academy to be trained to be the next possible princess.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Really liked this book - realistic fantasy world, nice exploration of a child/young woman coming to see the world in a more true way - lovely friendships and family relationships.
LibraryThing member spacecat77
Nira, a small girl, was never allowed to work in the mines. But an opportunity to mary the prince arises and she must train at the Princess Academy. There she must live like a low lander. When danger comes to the Academy, Mira must save her classmates.
LibraryThing member nandelh
A charming story about gainging knowledge, family relationships, friendships, fighting for the right purposes in life. Miri is a happy bright child. and she gains much by going to the Princess Academy and her influence with friends, neighbors and family. It is a good read
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
This book is historical fiction/fantasy set in medieval times. All the girls of a small, poor town are sent to a school where they will learn how to be a princess and compete for the prince's heart. I really enjoyed this book.
LibraryThing member beserene
Hale specializes in stories for girls that aim to entertain and empower. The first book of hers that I read, The Goose Girl, was a retelling of a less common Grimm's tale. In Princess Academy, Hale spins a tale that fits within the tone and parameters of a folk tale, but is (as far as I know) something of her own spinning. The themes of family love and recognizing your own importance underscore bright, pleasant prose and make for feel-good reading over all.… (more)
LibraryThing member BridgetteHarmon
This was a fun book in a feminist-Cinderella type of way, but I found the premise highly unlikely. Women do not generally work in rock quarries, no matter how enlightened their culture is, simply because, like Miri, they are naturally smaller and weaker than men. Also, they "cultured lowlanders" are painted almost completely black, while the mountain dwellers are shown to be much more interesting and human. Despite the preachy feminism, however, it is an entertaining story of anticipation and growth, complete with snobby school teachers and kidnapping bandits.… (more)
LibraryThing member 9hr01bev
I loves this book because of the adventure of this book. I thought it was wonderful that Miri learned to gurry speech. This book is A.R. it was also easy for me to read. I really recomend this book.
LibraryThing member SunnySD
High on the slopes of Mount Eskel the villagers survive by quarrying linder. The cycle of their lives is simple -- mine until the traders come, trade the linder for much needed winter supplies, and then quarry to replace the deplenished stone stores. The traders provide the vilage's only contact with the lowland world, and the saying "a surprise from a lowlander is like a snake in a box" typifies the villagers' trust of those who don't belong on the mountain. When a blue wagon and a royal messenger arrive with the traders bearing a message that the next king's wife will be selected from the girls of Mount Eskel, and that in order to prepare them for meeting the prince, a school will be established.... Well, let's just say that not everyone is overjoyed at the prospect.

Miri, just fourteen, and too small for quarry work, is one of those forced to attend the "Princess Academy". At school, rivalries develop among the girls, who vie for top spot in hopes of attracting the prince's attention. Miri is torn between wanting to see and learn more of the outside world, and her love of her family and Mount Eskel. Ultimately, a combination of Mount Eskel wisdom and skill with the new learning shows Miri the way to save all the girls, and make the village a better place for everyone.

Not the fastest moving story, but it is well written. Miri is an appealing, sympathetic character realistically drawn, and her application of the abstract concepts she's learned to her real-life situation is a lessen of itself. The plot is engaging, and the story's resolution is a good one.
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LibraryThing member misserin
ABSOLUTELY LOOOOVE THIS BOOK! If you are a female of ANY age, I enthusiastically recommend this book. It replaced Pride and Prejudice as my favorite book of all time, so if you know me, that says something. It is a great coming-of-age book that I've recommended to dozens of girls... ranging from elementary school to grown women... and I have yet to hear one say they haven't loved it! It is NOT a "fluff princess book"!!… (more)
LibraryThing member r13
I read this book last summer and loved it! I am using it in one of my guided reading groups and at first the boys were saying "that's a girl book!" but now they are asking if they can read more!! It really pulls you into Mira's (the main character) world--fascinating!
LibraryThing member kkcookie
this story is sad and really make you want to keep reading i think any girl will think this book is a good book it just goes to show what a girl can turn into.
LibraryThing member Nikkles
Princess Academy is the second book I read by Shannon Hale and the one that really hooked me I think. Its so well written and different then the normal young adult novel that I was captivated. Hale's writing is deceptively simple in form, which makes it all the more fun to read.
LibraryThing member mrs.mackey
"Princess Academy" is a book about a little girl named Miri. Miri lives in a village and is smaller than the rest of the children so she is not allowed to work the fields as the other children do. One day an announcement is made by the king. All girls between certain ages are to attend a princess academy. The winner will be chosen to be the prince's new wife. At first Miri is not interested, but as the academy progresses she sets her sights on the crown.

I absolutely loved this book. It reminded me of my childhood when I would sit for hours reading. I don't think that boys would find it very interesting though. Little girls will love it.

For the classroom, I would discuss with my students how they feel a princess should act. We would discuss whether or not the prince made the right decision when he chose his princess. I would have a box and have everyone write the name of the person they think should have won. The will put their paper in the box. I will pull the slips of paper out of the box and tally up the votes. We will see who got the most votes.
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LibraryThing member colvin
One of the Mount Eskel girls is prophesied to be the prince’s bride, so they’re all to be trained, & a nearby castle is to be their academy. Despised by their lowland tutor, they reluctantly learn reading and other arts, which turn out to be useful to their mining families. And the quarry-speech used on the mountain proves useful when the girls are threatened by injustice or danger. A surprise ending satisfies everyone! This looks like just another princess &/or school story, but it has depth and deserves its Newbery Honor award.… (more)
LibraryThing member Impstar
Read it in one night -- worth the time spent, and looking forward to future rereads. An unpredictable yet still engagingly simple story of change, self, fate, home, and acceptance. Full of nature, sense, intelligence and real people -- just the way I like my books. I'll be looking for more from this author...
LibraryThing member kdebros
This book has a fairy-tale quality, and isn't quite as 'girly' as the title implies. Good opportunities for discussion here.
LibraryThing member cpipkin1
This is a story of how young Miri over came adversity, while gaining self acceptance and courage. Miri lives in a remote mountain where, what is left of her family, pounds stone. Miri is small and stature and has never felt as if she was needed or that she belonged there. When word comes from the lowland that the prince will choose his bride from one of the young women of the mountain they are all sent to the Princess academy. While at the academy Miri must face her inner thoughts and decide if she really wants to be chosen as the princess and leave the mountain. She also forges new friendships, learns to accept her small stature, and helps save the young girls from danger.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a long read but I found myself rooting for young Miri throughout. I feel that many young children today, especially girls, can relate to feelings of not belonging, and desire to change your appearance.

In my classroom, this book would be one that students could choose for a literature circle. I would have the groups draw from a hat what their "job" will be for the circle and have them read the story. The word-finder will have several new words to discuss. Once they have completed their circle, I would like for the students to create a Venn Diagram relating feelings that Miri has to their feelings of today. I would also like them to create one for the culture of Miri compared to the culture of others. Once the literature circles and assignments are completed, the class will come together as a whole and each group will present the main idea of the stories and discuss their diagrams.

For an art project the students could draw what they think Miri should look like. It would be fun to see if each group member has the same mental image of Miri.
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(1115 ratings; 4.1)
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