Princess Magnolia is tired. Very tired. Living a double life can do that to a person; it’s hard work being a Princess and a monster butt-kicker. Just as she’s about to finally get some sleep, the monster alarm goes off again. Grumbling, but doing her duty, she throws on her disguise and is transformed into the Princess in Black (PIB), ready to do battle.
Aided this time by the Goat Avenger (who looks suspiciously like her friend Duff), the monster is sent packing. The Goat Avenger kindly offers to take on the goat watching duty so that PIB can take a much needed vacation; an offer she decides to take up.
For the PIB though, there is no rest. Even at the beach there is another monster and another battle to wage to keep her friends safe. Having to work on holiday is a drag, but the PIB steps up once again. At the end of the battle, she finally gets the quiet she needs.
I hadn’t met the Princess in Black before, no longer having kids in the early reader stage. I wish she had been around when they were younger though; I’m sure they would have loved her! How cool to see a princess who is capable, strong and resourceful, a princess who gets to enjoy frilly dresses one minute and monster busting the next.
This story is the PIB’s latest adventure in a series aimed at emerging readers (those who are beginning to read on their own). Full of action and secret passageways where Princess Magnolia can become the PIB, the stories are accompanied by illustrations and are set out in short, easy to manage chapters. The illustrations are colourful and fun with ‘Batman and Robin’ style battle kapows and slams, and the monsters are silly not scary. There are plenty of moments that appeal to kids’ sense of humour; they will get a kick out of silly PIB not recognising her friend in disguise in this story.
Shannon Hale is an award winning author and champion of strong female characters. Her other titles are aimed at older readers and include the Princess Academy trilogy, the Ever After High series and The Books of Bayern series. The Princess in Black books are co-authored with her husband, Dean Hale.
Beautifully designed and presented, the Princess in Black stories are lovely books that will give newly independent readers a real sense of having graduated to ‘big kid’ books. I would recommend adding this to the Christmas list.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Published by Candlewick Press