Saturday, November 24, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale

When Miri and a few of the girls from Mount Eskel's princess academy travel to the capital to help the princess-to-be get ready for her wedding, they have no idea what to expect. Some are worried about leaving their beloved mountain for the first time, others are thrilled about going to the big city, and Miri is mostly just happy to see her best friend.

But not everything in Ashland is as perfect as the mountain girls hoped. As Miri learns more about her new home, she finds herself deep in the missdle of an up heaval that affects everyone she loves. Torn between her loyalty to the princess and her belief in her new friend's daring ideas, and between an old love and a new crush, Miri must test the strengths and skills she gained in the princess academy.

Palace of Stone serves as a perfect sequel and continuation of the story readers loved with the original Princess Academy, and will open the world of Shannon Hale to middle grade readers who are certain to love the vivid descriptions, interesting characters, and almost-magical worlds she creates.

Miri's exploration of ethics introduces readers to the idea of choosing between two perhaps equally worthy or appealing choices, options in which the final outcomes may be drastically different. With the new Common Core Standards' focus on writing argument papers, teachers may want to use this novel to read together as a class, or as a support text for independent reading.

The inclusion of poetic epigraphs and informal letters expands the opportunity for student-centered writing activities and teacher-directed discussion of text structure and writing styles.

Educational uses aside, Palace of Stone is a wonderful story for both independent reading or to read aloud. Highly recommended for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Gail Carson Levine.

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