Available in bookstores nationwide.
The Princess in Black is the first of (hopefully) many early readers for 5 – 8 year olds. In it we are introduced to Princess Magnolia, who is prim, pink and proper when everyone is watching, and a butt-kicking monster wrangler when duty calls.
As with any good hero-in-disguise, it’s imperative that the disguise is kept in place, particularly from nosy Duchess Wigtower, who is sure Princess Magnolia must be keeping secrets. Monsters crossing borders illegally to steal goats can happen at the most inconvenient of times, however … and will Duff the goatherd ever put two and two together?
I enlisted the aid of Yaya, a 5 year old from Newtown School, to help me review the story. She really enjoyed it, and read parts of it to her little brother, who also told me that he thought it was a fun story. Their favourite part was an illustration of the Princess’s horse taking photographs while she dealt with a monster.
Yaya is right – it is a fun story, fast-paced and full of humour, with just enough dramatic tension to keep the story interesting without scaring tender readers. Princess Magnolia embraces both her pink dress-wearing side and her super hero persona – because why can’t you be both? Her attitude is definitely more Princess Smartypants than Sleeping Beauty – and this is a very good thing, because I can’t imagine Sleeping Beauty sparkle slamming goat-thieving monsters.
Even more than the story, I loved the illustrations and the book design. The pages are quality white paper, and the engaging watercolour and ink illustrations are in full colour – it feels positively luxurious to read. Congratulations to Candlewick Press for giving their young readers an early chapter book that looks like a high quality picture book. It makes the book so inviting at first glance to readers who are starting to transition away from picture books.
Another Princess in Black adventure is due to be published in October this year. Yaya is really looking forward to reading it when it comes out – and so am I.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
The Princess in Black
by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale,
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Published by Candlewick Press