Parents' Guide to

Palace of Stone: Princess Academy, Book 2

By Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Exciting, complex sequel a mix of politics and compassion.

Book Shannon Hale Fantasy 2012
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Shannon Hale's PALACE OF STONE is a masterfully complex tale that subverts everything you expect from a princess adventure. Miri is a complicated, headstrong heroine, and, in every new experience she faces, Hale excels at giving readers unexpected depth. Education is not only a one-way ticket out of sheltered life on the mountain for Miri, it's a chance to study and learn about the world, help other people, light up her brain, and ultimately make things better for her community. But in the wrong hands, knowledge can be dangerous, especially if it's used by the overzealous to misrepresent the truth in the name of a good cause.

Hale teaches readers to think through all possible points of view, to view everyone compassionately, and to reconcile problems more elegantly -- to push beyond seeing issues as simply black and white. This is a terrific coming-of-age story for boys or girls that will entertain them without insulting their intelligence and make learning look (nearly) more seductive than romance. There are some intense scenes, some assassination attempts, and threats of violence. There's also a lot of hardship and loss. But it's not treated gratuitously, and the focus here is on how young people become aware of the world and develop compassion for others. Miri and her friends grapple with romance, friendship, and grave injustices, all woven together so gracefully you'll hardly notice you've just been given a pretty sophisticated lesson in politics, ethics, and class struggle.

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