The Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, is a picture book aimed at the early reading crowd (kids from about 3 or 4 up to about 7 or 8). It follows the prim and proper Princess Magnolia and her secret adventures as the Princess in Black.
The story starts with Princess Magnolia having proper tea with Duchess Wigtower, a nosy noble intent on finding out all of the Princess’ secrets. Little does she know that Princess Magnolia is the hero known as the Princess in Black, defeater of monster threats. The Duchess isn’t the only one to think the Princess has a secret: Duff the goat boy has noticed some similarities between the Princess in Black and frilly Princess Magnolia.
Despite being packaged in a way to appeal to young girls, I think The Princess in Black would be enjoyable to any young child. The illustrations by LeUyen Pham are simply delightful in their simplicity. The are dynamic and very colorful (even with all the black from the Princess). The creative ways the Princess sneaks around are sure to appeal to adventuresome young minds.
This book begs to be read out loud. The sentences are simple, yet full of excitement. With the right narration, this book could be an exciting evening adventure for a young child and parent to enjoy together. The storytelling talents of the Hales really shows, even with the smaller vocabulary than is normally used in in Shannon’s works. The story is treated like royalty here.
I highly recommend The Princess in Black to anyone who enjoys a quick, fun adventure story. With an excellent artist to help spark the imagination, the equally-excellent story completes this fun package. Let the adventure begin!
Release Date: October 14, 2014 (USA)
ISBNs: 076366510X (9780763665104)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Violence: 1 (monster fighting, very tame)