September 24th, 2012


Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Good news, Shannon Hale fans: Palace of Stone, the sequel to the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, is here, and it's solid as a rock. The story also stands alone, and those who pick up this book without having read the first won't be lost - but if they like life in the Palace, they will hopefully travel back to Princess Academy and read that as well!

When Miri is given the option to live in Ashland for a year to both study and to assist her friend Britta in preparation for her wedding, she seizes the opportunity, though she knows she will miss her father and older sister something terrible during her time away. Temporarily leaving behind the mountain town she loves is difficult, but made easier by those who accompany her on her journey, especially her dearest friend, Peder.

While in Ashland, Miri learns not only from history books and distinguished professors, but also from commoners and nobles alike. She is a country mouse in the big city, and she's eager to explore. She is moved by those she meets who identify as "the shoeless," the lower class, who struggle to make ends meet while the king's people take their food and other creations as tributes. She observes the interactions of the different classes and realizes how their choices and voices impact society and history. A young man named Timon introduces her to a group that's ready to change the ways of their government - by force, if necessary. When political upheaval challenges the palace and puts people she cares about in danger, Miri must draw upon her knowledge and bravery to ensure the well-being of everyone involved.

With politics, ethics, revolution, and a dash of romance, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone is just right for the strong-willed thinking girl who is a future leader (and/or writer) as well as a bibliophile. Consider this:

"Some things are more important than one person. [...] I don't want to live a comfortable, small life. I want to change the world." - Page 94

"Today was amazing. Something bad was going to happen, but then someone took a stand and dozens joined him. I want to be one of those people. The standing ones." - Page 103

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone is sure to please Shannon Hale fans and garner her some new ones.

Attention teachers: This would be a great book to discuss in a school classroom, as it can encourage students to get active in their communities and value their education. In-class assignments could include creating pamphlets and personal letters, and students could talk about everything from monarchies to moving away from home to the ethics of sharing secrets. You could even throw a classroom ball when you've finished the book!

Are you new to Mount Eskel? Learn more about Princess Academy and Palace of Stone at Shannon Hale's official website, which offers excerpts as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at her writing process.

Related Posts at Bildungsroman
Author Interview: Shannon Hale
Roundtable Discussion: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Psst! My Poetry Friday selection this week is a passage from this book.