The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation Book Poster Image
Princess tries to get a break in fun, action-packed volume.

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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 lots of short chapters and good vocabulary for beginning readers, including "sluggish" and "doozy." 

Positive Messages

Everybody needs a vacation once in a while. It's nice to share responsibilities and kind to step up to help out a friend who needs a break.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Princess Magnolia is selfless and brave. Duff is brave and helpful. Princess Sneezewort proves she can rescue someone, too. 

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon violence (hitting) against monsters. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen, is the fourth book in the fun series of illustrated chapter books about brave Princess Magnolia and her secret identity as a monster fighter. In this book, she tales a break and leaves monster hunting to Duff the goat boy, who herds goats and keeps them out of the mouths of the hungry monsters he battles as the masked and costumed Goat Avenger. But even on her seaside vacation, she must spring into action when a sea monster rises up and threatens to eat the sunbathing humans. There's cartoon violence against monsters, with highlighted words such as "Slam!" and "Smash!" but nothing truly scary. 

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What's the story?

There's no rest for Princess Magnolia even on a sunny beach in THE PRINCESS IN BLACK TAKES A VACATION. As the story begins, she's so tired of monster fighting she's falling asleep on her pony, Blacky, and yawning instead of roaring at a monster. When the masked and caped Goat Avenger shows up to help (she doesn't realize it's actually Duff, the goat boy), he tells her she needs a vacation. He offers to stay in the pasture to watch out for monsters and save the goats while she's gone. She bikes to a lovely beach, where she runs into suspicious Princess Sneezewort ... and a sea monster who's threatening to eat the beachgoers. Can she save them, too? 

Is it any good?

Duff the goat boy, aka the Goat Avenger, gets more to do in this action-packed volume with two fun stories to follow. In alternating chapters, we see him hunting and fighting monsters in the pasture and Princess Magnolia/the Princess in Black sleepily fighting a monster, then heading to the beach for a break, then having to fight the sea monster who rises in the water. HIs storyline turns very silly when he traps a squirrel instead of a big monster, and the squirrel helps him defeat a big one-eyed monster who looks like an acorn. There's never a dull moment in either storyline. And even Princess Sneezewort gets to do something brave to save the Princess in Black.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the monsters in The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation. Are any of them real? 

  • Do you think even superheroes get tired of rescuing folks all the time and need a vacation? Does your family go on vacation? Where have you gone? 

  • What do you think about how this series is going? Do you like Duff getting more to do as the series goes on? What do you think will happen in the next book? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventurous princesses and strong girls

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