Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Princess Academy Audio

Princess Academy Audio

Shannon Hale
For ages 12 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Laura Credidio
Blackstone Audio, 2012 

Miri and the rest of the people in her village can hardly believe that the girls of Mount Eskel have been chosen as potential brides for the prince of Danland. They are told that because Mount Eskel is so isolated, the girls will need to be educated at a special academy which is being set up for them. They will have to leave their families and their village for many months to attend the academy and attendance is mandatory. Once their education is complete the prince will visit and choose one of them to be his bride.

So Miri and the other girls leave their village and the only life they have ever known to walk to the ?lowlander? academy. They learn to read and write, how to dance, poise, and some history. They also learn a little commerce and diplomacy. From the commerce book Miri learns that her people in the village have been sorely cheated these many years in their dealings with traders. They have not been paid enough for the linder stone that they have quarried. Miri becomes determined that she will tell the villagers all she has learned as soon as she can get back to the village. She also learns something else during her time at the academy ? she learns ?quarry-speech.? For generations quarry workers have used a silent form of speech to communicate in the quarries. Miri discovers that the quarry-speech will work anywhere where there is linder stone. All one has to do is to use common memories of the mountain people and keep on touch with the stone and the speech flows.

As she learns more Miri gains confidence in herself and she is able to go back to her village with something to offer her father and the other villagers. She and the other girls are able to make sure that fair deals are struck with the traders for the linder stone. Furthermore, because of what they have learned, Miri also insists that their tutor, Olana, treats them with more respect and decency. Until now, Olan has been a cruel and dictatorial taskmaster. From now on she will have to treat the girls differently.

One thing that Miri is not sure about is whether she wants to become the academy princess. What if the prince chooses her? Will she want to leave her family and her mountains?

In this wonderfully written book Shannon Hale weaves together an adventure tale with elements of magic to create a story which is quite captivating. Best of all her main character grows in the most remarkable way, finding great strength within herself and thus discovering the means to change her own life and the lives of others for the better. So many of us have thought how wonderful it would be to be a princess, and how wonderful it would be to be taken away to someplace new by a handsome young prince on a white horse. Shannon Hale shows us that we need to consider that our dreams need not be so grandiose. What we are looking for may be closer at hand and more rewarding that we ever dreamed of.

In this marvelous recording Laura Credidio brings Shannon Hale's story to life. The narrator does a fabulous job making every character distinctive and vibrant, and listeners will find themselves thoroughly enjoying this superb performance.