The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate Book Poster Image
Princesses team up to fight sneaky monster in funny romp.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fun fantasy meant to entertain, but good practice reading short chapters and getting to know familiar characters better. Mention of karaoke and ninja. Not-too-serious tips on "How to Be a Monster-Battling Hero." Some interesting vocabulary words, including "woozy," "twine," "llama," "quivered." 

Positive Messages

Working together as a team helps get the job done. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both princesses are brave and care about protecting animals -- both goats and domestic pets. They're kind to each other (even though they sneak off to change into their superhero costumes and fight monsters). The Goat Avenger guards the goats and protects them from monsters while the Princess in Black is away. 

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon violence: bashing and tying up monsters and shoving them back down the hole to Monster Land. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, is the fifth book in this series. Here, Princess Magnolia has a playdate with Princess Sneezewort, and they both secretly transform into monster-hunting heroes. There's also a new shape-shifting monster who hides by turning into things, such as a bush or a bench, and who tries to eat pets as well as goats. There are great messages about friendship and teamwork along with super silly fun. 

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What's the story?

In THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE MYSTERIOUS PLAYDATE, the Princess in Black leaves the Goat Avenger in charge of keeping monsters from eating goats in the pasture, while she sneaks away to have a secret playdate with Princess Sneezewort as her pink-wearing self, Princess Magnolia. But she doesn't realize a sneaky monster who can hide by changing shapes has followed her. During their date, the sneaky monster goes after pets in the park (almost as tasty as goats), and each princess sneaks off to stop him -- Magnolia as the Princess in Black and Sneezewort as the Princess in Blankets (who grabs from a closet to create her monster-fighting costume). In the end, they team up, catch the monster, send him back down the hole to Monster Land, and do a victory dance with the Goat Avenger.

Is it any good?

This wild and silly adventure has the added fun of a new partner in crime-fighting, as Princess Sneezewort creates her own monster-bashing identity, inspired by the Princess in Black. Somehow the two girls don't recognize their friend underneath the superhero costume, but teamwork rules and they get their monster in the end. Lots of cute and funny moments along the way, and a clever monster who can shape-shift into a bush, a rock, a treasure chest, and a bench. LeUyen Pham's illustrations are, as usual, a delight, especially scenes of the city where Princess Sneezewort's castle is. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the monsters in The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate. Are they scary or funny? 

  • Would you like to be able to turn yourself into different shapes so people wouldn't notice you were there? What ways can you hide now? 

  • What do you think of having another princess dress up and fight monsters? Do you think the Princess in Blankets works well with the Princess in Black? Which one seems better at monster hunting? 

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