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The Princess in Black #1

The Princess in Black

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Who says princesses don’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black!

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her ! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.

90 pages, Hardcover

First published October 14, 2014

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About the author

Shannon Hale

136 books13.1k followers
Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including the upcoming Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig.

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5 stars
4,132 (39%)
4 stars
3,830 (37%)
3 stars
1,824 (17%)
2 stars
378 (3%)
1 star
178 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,698 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,675 followers
December 27, 2014
It is SO HARD to find beginning chapter books, people! SO HARD. I hate those numbered readers. HATE THEM. They are either lame, or they contain words that are well beyond the reading level. (Don't believe me? Get your hands on any of the Indiana Jones ones. That's right, there's some about Indiana Jones, a character from a movie that is far too mature for a 5yo. And they contain words like archaeologist, ritual, and artifact.) So it was with great pleasure that I read this before giving it to my 6yo daughter for Christmas. Here is a fun and delightful story, with a good vocabulary level and lots of fun pictures. The reader has the pleasure of reading a big, hardback book with chapters, but the fun of being able to handle the words and to study the awesome pictures. This is a definite win, and I hope there are more!
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,076 reviews5,041 followers
June 3, 2022
I’ve been seeing this book around the library for a long time and younger readers absolutely love them. I thought it would be a quick read that I could settle into and finish in about half an hour to an hour. The story itself is pretty simplistic and follows a young girl who is a princess but also battles monsters with an alter ego. Readers are introduced to her in this first book at get time see her battle a monster who’s interested in eating goats. The story was easy to follow and it definitely will work for its target audience (2nd-4th grade). The added illustrations make the story more fun to follow and really serve as an assistant in making this book a great transitional read for young readers moving away from picture books and more into chapter books. There isn’t much that necessarily happens in this one, but it’s a solid start to the series. Honestly, I’m really interested in checking out the other books.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,600 reviews637 followers
May 24, 2022
This is adorable; I totally get why my niblings are so obsessed with this series.
I do wish the names were a little more creative.
A black horse named blacky? Seriously?
That's really the only problem I have, everything else was adventurous and fun.
Profile Image for Zoey.
36 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2019
4.5 stars
Its about a princess that battles with a monster that eats goats. My favorite part was that the monster went into a hole.
Profile Image for Laura5.
500 reviews193 followers
May 30, 2015
I love so much about this early chapter book, and am looking forward to more in the series.
Profile Image for Laura.
566 reviews94 followers
June 6, 2017
I love this book. It is adorable, funny, creative, fun and the illustrations are super cute. My daughter loves to read it and reread it. ( I have even caught my fifth grade son reading this.) It's simply a joy to pick up and read. This would be perfect for a kindergartner or first grader who is needing a solid, first chapter book.
Profile Image for Gretchen Alice.
1,080 reviews92 followers
December 10, 2014
Perhaps most apparent at Christmastime, books and toys for young girls take a very gendered approach. There is a proliferation of pink and princesses and puffy glittered hearts. Sure, girls can like that stuff, but what about their other interests? The Princess in Black is the perfect solution to that problem. Princess Magnolia leads a pretty idyllic life in her castle. She serves scones and hot chocolate and wears a frilly dress. But when her secret alarm goes off, she turns into The Princess in Black. She's responsible for guarding the kingdom from what lies in the nearby entrance to Monster Land. With her trusty steed, she kicks and smashes and saves goats from the goat-hungry monsters. The goat boy (not a boy who's half goat, although as the book points out, "That would be interesting!") is forever grateful for her help and also maybe a wee bit suspicious of her true identity. The Duchess Wigtower is also convinced that Magnolia is hiding a secret, although the Duchess can't quite figure it out. Shannon and Dean Hale's story contains shades of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The humor is consistent, too. This book is meant for boys and girls, go figure, and kids will enjoy having the story read to them. The text is simple enough that newbie readers will be able to grasp the language and simultaneously have a blast trying to sound out some of the sillier words. For instance, Magnolia's trusty steed has a day job as "Frimplepants the Unicorn." There is so much cleverness to be found here, which makes the fact that this is the start of a series even better. The real star, though, is LeUyen Pham's stunning illustrations. Her work is so lively and perfectly matches the tone of the book. What if girls were into pink AND superheroes? Spoiler alert...they already are. The Princess in Black is an ideal addition to any collection.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
September 29, 2019
Princess Magnolia leads a double life in this early chapter-book fantasy for those children just getting going with longer fiction. A sweet, mild-mannered princess in public, her alter-ego - The Princess in Black - fights monsters whilst in disguise. Even her equine companion - sparkly unicorn Frimplepants when bearing Princess Magnolia, and sturdy pony Blacky when riding with the Princess in Black - gets in on the double-act. But when Princess Magnolia is called away to fight monsters while entertaining the nosy Duchess Wigtower, will she be able to keep her secret...?

The first in an immensely popular chapter-book series, The Princess in Black offers an engaging story, paired with vibrantly colorful illustrations. It's on the easier end of the chapter-book range, so I'd recommend it for readers who are looking at things like the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo. The main character is often touted as a girl-friendly figure, one whose story emphasizes female empowerment. I can certainly see how that could be the case, as the Princess in Black's adventures emphasize her bravery and take-charge attitude. That said, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that these adventures must be kept secret. Is it simply a case of a super-hero having a more ordinary identify for the everyday world, or is there an implication that the super-hero's actions are somehow inappropriate, in the context of the story world? Perhaps the dual identity emphasizes the idea that girls can be both 'girly,' and tough? Whatever the case may be, I can see this one really keeping young readers entertained, as they follow the princess's adventures in her two parallel lives.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,113 reviews133 followers
March 12, 2017
Princess Pounce! Blacky Buck! Hornswaggle Hop! Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash!!

Shannon and Dean Hale can never do wrong. They brought my spirit animal, Squirrel Girl into my life and my life hasn't been the same. So when a Princess wears darker clothing, just like me, I rave my way at the chance to read it.

Princess Magnolia is hiding a big, huge secret and if it ever came out, her kingdom will never be the same.

During the day, she's pretty in pink Princess Magnolia and at night she's Princess in Black the asskicker of Monsters who come from the underground. They always seem to be hungry for goats. But PM is not cool with that.

She must keep her secret hidden in a bro closet as she karate chops those damn monsters back down below.

Cute illustrations to go with an even cuter story. What a way to show girls that they can be girly and kick ass at the same time.
1 review1 follower
January 5, 2022
I liked that it was a mystery because the princess had a secret.
Profile Image for Mary.
2,710 reviews11 followers
February 9, 2015
In her everyday life, Princess Magnolia is the typical frilly-glass-slippers-prim-and-perfect princess, but when her monster alarm rings, she become the Princess in Black wearing black tights and a cape with ninja moves. The illustrations are pitch perfect in capturing the charm and humor of the fast paced action. Every character is distinct and deserving of their own book: Frimplepants, big blue monster, Duff, and Goat Avenger. My favorite picture is the double spread of the Princess in Black crawling up the tunnel to her castle. An empowering story for all readers, reminding us that stereotypes can be very funny. A SPARKLE SLAM must-read book!
Profile Image for Montague.
16 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2017
(4.5 stars) It's about a princess who wears black and tries to help the boy and the goats from the big blue monster and people think that princesses don't wear black. I was heartbroken because they didn't let the princess wear black. Princess can wear black if they want to. I liked the part where she helped the goats and boy from the big, blue monster. (age 7)
Profile Image for Amina (ⴰⵎⵉⵏⴰ).
1,278 reviews265 followers
February 22, 2022
What would you do if you were a princess, a monster fighter and have a nosy duchess in you castle?
At some point, I thought that old bat had Magnolia cornered!!
Profile Image for Samantha Kolber.
Author 2 books51 followers
October 1, 2022
My 6 year old daughter LOVES this and we’re now going through the series. She can read them on her own but she also likes for me to read to her so we read a few chapters each night before bed. There’s one part where she laughs out loud so hard she can’t breathe! Any book that does that is a good book for kids. It really helps them fall in love with reading.
Profile Image for Brittney.
341 reviews2 followers
July 30, 2020
Read out loud. My kids love these books SO MUCH, and I love the colorful illustrations. Bathtime Battle was my favorite in the series.
Profile Image for Emily.
195 reviews23 followers
November 13, 2014
LeUyen Pham's illustrations--I love the book's cover, and the princess's double chin--are what elevated Princess in Black to a 2-star book for me (with reservations--I really didn't dig it). Shannon and Dean Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge had a fabulously feisty female lead character who defied convention. The Princess in Black sort-of defies some not-very-up-to-date-sounding conventions, but she's wildly closeted about it, which weirded me out, as did the litany of thudding old-timey-seeming judgments like "Princesses do not run. Princesses do not wear black. Goat boys do not get ideas." (It's one thing if only Duchess Wigtower thinks these things, but they're not assigned to her--they're written as general beliefs of, I guess, the kingdom/our world--and I think we've come too far for these to sound like believable generalizations to readers). A century or two ago, this might have been a boundary-pushing representation of a princess in a children's book. Now it just kind of sinks in my stomach like a stone (except, again, for the delightful cover illustration). Ugh.

As a subject matter alternative (though they're not beginning readers; they're picture books), I'd recommend Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer and Not All Princess Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen--or the classic Paper Bag Princess, though it's less new and sparkly illustration-wise than the first two and might not have as much initial illustration appeal.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,451 reviews474 followers
January 12, 2015
So many books really play to the expected gender roles of young boys and girls, with pretty clear divisions by color, hobbies, accessories, etc. This book gives us a heroine who is out saving folks dressed all in black like Zorro, but, also, says that the pink isn't automatically bad just because it is girly.

Now I want to go fight monsters.

Pham's artwork, by the way, is fabulous. It captures a retro vibe from picture books of the 60s, but without feeling dated or self-consciously ironic. It suits the Princess very well.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Camille.
61 reviews3 followers
February 24, 2015
Because I have read Goose Girl many many times, I decided to purchase this book from a book order instead of borrowing it at the library for my girls. I am so glad I bought this book. My oldest loved it so much she read it twice in one day, once to herself and then again to her little sister. At age 7, that's pretty great! It's a cute story, with entertaining pictures. Thank you, Shannon Hale! Another great book!
Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,813 reviews417 followers
August 6, 2021
Oh! So this is what the fuss is about! My expectations were exceeded. No need to kill or even wound the monster, just say Please. Duchess Wigtower. Details in the illustrations... art that will inspire young fans to draw their own scenes of the character's further adventures. Duff kissing the goats goodnight.

Also much shorter than I expected... I can make time for the sequels!
Profile Image for Matthew Winner.
103 reviews55 followers
March 5, 2015
And finally my best work ever this week is The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This is number one in what will be a series and it's an easy reader and it's so good. It's about this princess, Princess Magnolia, who's all dress in pink at all prim and proper and what have you, but she has a secret. She is the princess in black! And while she has Duchess Wiggtower over an emergency happens: a monster gets out and she has to go save it… save the town and get this monster back in his monster hole. And it's just so funny and lovely and wonderful. The language is spot on. And I love that it takes the princess story and turns it on its head. It's such an enjoyable story. The illustrations are perfect in it. And it's got content here, characters here, that the readers are going to want to run back to right away, so I know that anyone who has read Princess in Black already is just chomping at the bit for book two to come out. So, very well done. That's why I'm calling The Princess in Black the best book ever this week. Way to go, Princess in Black!

This review appears on an episode of the “Best Book Ever [this week]” segment of the Let’s Get Busy podcast. Check out the original post here: http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/2015/0...
Profile Image for Annie.
213 reviews2 followers
July 11, 2015
I picked this up off the new shelf thinking my daughters would enjoy it and having no idea that it would become my five year old's new absolute favorite. Princess Magnolia is a fancy, proper pink princess who has a secret. She secretly dresses in black (still with the tiara of course) and does superhero things like stopping monsters from eating her buddy's goats. The artwork is fun and the text is charming and funny. The one problem I have with the story is, as my daughter herself asked me, "why is it a secret?" Why can't Princess Magnolia be the Princess in Black without it being secret? It seems to somewhat defeat the girl-power message to also imply that you can be a tough, strong, action hero girl only if you hide it from the world. I'm so glad that irked my daughter as well. My daughter roped one of her grandmothers into making her a PiB costume and she has worn it 24/7 since receiving it a few days ago. Undoubtedly, this one is a keeper. Perhaps in the next book she will go public with her secret identity?!?
Profile Image for H.D..
157 reviews
February 21, 2016
What an unexpectedly fun read this was! Even for adults. Assuming I qualify as one. I was looking for a gift for my niece, who had loved Vader's Little Princess (Jeffrey Brown) and this was recommended to me by a guru of kids' books. I didn't plan to read it before giving it to her, but in my continuing post-Morning Star (Pierce Brown) hangover state, I figured it was a safe bet to not wreck my tiny uncarved Earthborn heart.

The writing is clever enough to withstand multiple adult reading-aloud's. The illustrations by LeUyen Pham also strike just the right balance of cutesy Disney and badass superhero. If you know a kid who is part princess, part superhero, all verve, this is the perfect book for them.
Profile Image for Raegan.
123 reviews3 followers
November 26, 2019
I loved this book a lot but I have to admit that I was expecting that simply because of Shannon Hale. Such a cute read and series about a perfect, pretty, pink princess who secretly protects her kingdom from Monster Land as the brave, daring, and kind Princess in Black. A must read for all my juvenile readers out there!
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,822 reviews139 followers
December 21, 2022
Loved it!

I don't know why it took me so long to read this series. I opened it now on my journey to find a book to use for a K-2 book group. While I won't be using this one for the book group, I did introduce them to my niece who fell instantly in love. That's how I ended up reading it twice - we sat at the library and read books #1 and #2 in one sitting!

Princess Magnolia does everything a princess is "supposed" to do, but she has a big secret! She's the Princess in Black and her job is to stop the monsters from Monster Land coming to eat the goats. Duff is the goat boy but he loves to watch the Princess in Black and dreams of becoming the Goat Avenger.

So much fun!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,576 reviews50 followers
December 28, 2016
I thought the premise of this book seemed charming, and I love girl power kids books. This absolutely did not disappoint.

The art was cute and charming, the humour was on point (still smiling at "cheeky snail"), and the story was adorable. I know that I would have loved reading this when I was little, and it was fun just to see a princess tackle the duties of princesses and moster hunting all in one book.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a kid's book with an awesome girl in the lead. I would read this to my own children if I ever have any. I hope to read the next book, and I am especially eager to see if the Goat Avenger becomes a side kick.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,698 reviews

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