The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Princess Magnolia was having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when then monster alarm sounded. Dressed in along dress of pink with a tiara, no one would expect that Princess Magnolia is actually also the Princess in Black who battles monsters and protects her kingdom. After all, princesses don’t wear black! Waiting outside the castle is Frimplepants, the princess’ unicorn, but he is also Blacky, the trusty pony of the Princess in Black. The two of them galloped off to face the monster who is threatening the herd of goats. Now the princess has to save the goatherd, battle the monster, and keep her secret identity from the nosy Duchess Wigtower!
Bravo for a princess figure who neither scorns the tiaras and dresses and pink nor is limited by them for the way she lives her life! This is one amazing young woman who transforms into a hero, but clearly lives her princess life with the same heroism and dedication as she has in her alter ego. The writing is light and fresh with rather dim-witted huge monsters who just want a meal and remember vaguely that there is a reason they don’t eat the kingdom’s goats. Happily too, the princess does the fighting, isn’t terrified at all, and routs the monsters from her kingdom. Clever, strong and brave, she’s exactly the heroine that her kingdom needs.
Pham’s illustrations show a young princess who is not stick-thin or Barbie-like in any way. Instead, she is strong in her body, built like a young girl actually is, and when she does battle it feels right and she doesn’t come off as weak at all. The illustrations of the monsters add to the humor, though their size is daunting.
A real treat for young readers looking for a real girl doing real battle whether she is a princess or not. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from library copy.