The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

cover image

Ill. by LeUyen Pham. The Princess in Black bk 1. Candlewick Press, 2014. ISBN 9780763678883
(Age: 5-8) Recommended. Fantasy. Princesses. Humour. Princess Magnolia has an alter ego. Everyone believes that she is the perfect princess, dressed in lovely pink gowns, but when danger threatens the goats she dons her black outfit and goes to rescue them from the big blue monster. But will Duchess Wigtower, the nosiest person in the kingdom, work out her secret?
This is the perfect book for young readers just moving from picture books to chapter books. The text is relatively short but what makes it so good is the alliteration - 'You seems so prim and perfect' says the Duchess to Princess Magnolia - and the humour, which comes alive in the illustrations. I laughed out loud as I read about Princess Magnolia's exploits and the expressions on the faces of all the characters, even the goats, are priceless.
Although it would be great for everyone to realise that even if girls are dressed in pink and appear to be very proper, they can also be daring and cunning, the narrative, humour and illustrations make it a standout read.
Pat Pledger