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Book review: An unexpected hero in Shannon and Dean Hale's newest 'Princess in Black'

Posted September 1

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE MYSTERIOUS PLAYDATE,” by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Candlewick Books, $14.99, 96 pages (ages 5-8)

Princess Magnolia (aka the monster-fighting Princess in Black) has a play date with Princess Sneezewort planned in “The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate,” the fifth book in the series by local authors Shannon and Dean Hale.

Princess in Black left the Goat Avenger (who looks suspiciously like Duff the goat boy) watching the hole to Monster Land so no monsters would sneak out. But a shape-shifting monster still manages to stow away on Princess Magnolia’s buggy as she and Frimplepants go visit Princess Sneezewort.

Soon, the hungry stowaway monster is causing all kinds of trouble, and Princess Magnolia makes up excuses to leave to become the Princess in Black. Meanwhile, Princess Sneezewort decides she should try to do something to help protect her kingdom. From the lessons she’s read in princess and ninja magazines, she creates a disguise as the Princess in Blankets and goes to help the Princess in Black.

The Princess in Blankets doesn’t have any obvious ninja fighting skills, but she can blend in well as she waits for the sneaky monster, who keeps disappearing, to show itself.

It’s an adorable and humorous installment in the Princess in Black series that shows that not all heroes look the same and many skills are useful and needed, as it can take more than one heroine to solve a problem.

There are new signature moves in “The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate” — both for play dates and fighting monsters — and hopefully this isn’t the last hero-princess play date for these young monster fighters.

LeUyen Pham’s illustrations add depth to the story as Princess Sneezewort transforms into a hero and a shape-shifting monster becomes, among other things, a bench, a bush and a stone.

There is no foul language or sexual content, and the fighting is presented in an age-appropriate way.

A sixth installment is scheduled for fall 2018.

Shannon Hale is the author of more than 20 books, including the Newbery Honor Book “The Princess Academy.”

The husband-wife team have previously collaborated on two graphic novels for young readers and “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World” for middle grade readers, which was released earlier this year.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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