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The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale,
illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Superhero Princess to the Rescue!
Hilary Taber reviewsThe Princess in Black
(Candlewick Press, $14.99, Ages 5-8),
the first book in a new chapter book series.

Princess-in-Black-cvr.jpgWho says you can’t be a princess and a heroine? Allow me to introduce you to Princess Magnolia. This princess wears pink, has a sparkle ring, glass slippers and, at the beginning of the book, she is taking tea with the Duchess Wigtower. The Duchess has a feeling that Princess Magnolia is perhaps too perfect. Princess Magnolia appears to the Duchess to be too prim and proper. Princess Magnolia therefore must have a secret.

It seems that the Duchess will certainly have an opportunity to find out what that secret might be when Princess Magnolia’s glitter stone ring suddenly gives off an alarm. However, Duchess Wigtower (deftly and sweetly illustrated by LeUyen Pham with a wonderfully towering wig) never quite catches on that there has been a call to action! The glitter stone ring is actually a secret alarm. The Princess excuses herself to change into her black outfit to become the Princess in Black!

Princess Magnolia’s kingdom just happens to be located right next to Monster Land. A daring princess is clearly needed here. Together with her black pony (who is usually disguised as a unicorn), she sets off to find out why the alarm was sounded. When the princess arrives, she finds that the rather dim witted monsters who live underground in Monster Land have forgotten why they are not allowed to go above ground. It’s especially hard for them to remember the reason for this rule when they can smell the lovely scent of goat floating down into their cave. They love goats, but not in the strictly, “I’m just admiring these charming goats. Reminds me so much of Heidi!” Certainly not. The monsters want to eat the charming goats. This is a job for the Princess in Black! Well, these silly monsters have certainly met their match, but will Princess Magnolia be able to save the day and protect her superhero identity? If anyone can outwit duchesses and monsters it would be Princess Magnolia, a.k.a. the Princess in Black!

LeUyen Pham’s charming illustrations meet Shannon and Dean Hale’s lively writing punch for punch and sparkle for sparkle. The illustrations are so sweetly princess-like when they need to be, but so full of action-packed, adorable fun when they should be that they are impossible to resist. There are also many interesting clues to be found in the illustrations that the attentive reader can pick up on that prove, without a doubt, that Princess Magnolia is actually the Princess in Black. Additionally, The Princess in Black is the first in a series. Huzzah! This series will provide a much needed bridge to longer, more challenging reading when the time is right. Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series will find much to enjoy here. Princess fans of all ages will find a heroine to inspire them, for Princess Magnolia is a model of both fashion and bravery.

Click here to find out Seven Things You Didn’t Know About the Princess in Black.

Click here to read a Q&A with the Hales.

Shannon and Dean Hale are the husband-and-wife writing team behind the graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, both illustrated by Nathan Hale.

 

School Lunch Superhero Day

School Lunches and Lunch Lady:
Packed With Power

LUNCH LADY AND THE VIDEO GAME VILLAINToday, May 3rd, together with Lunch Lady author Jarrett Krosoczka and the School Nutrition Association, Random House Children’s Books is celebrating School Lunch Superhero Day! This is a day for students, teachers, and school staff to give thanks to the school nutrition professionals that feed over 31 million students each day.

WIN WITH IMAGINATION: Tell us what you imagine your lunch lady does when she’s not serving meals and you may win a copy of LUNCH LADY AND THE VIDEO GAME VILLAIN! Scroll down for entry rules.

index~~element25About School Nutrition Association
School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. School Lunch Superhero Day will kick off SNA’s annual School Nutrition Employee Week (May 6-10, 2013), recognizing the many contributions of school nutrition professionals. To find out more about today’s school meals, visit www.TrayTalk.org.
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INSPIRATION: Jarrett’s very own School Lunch Superhero, Jean Cariglia, inspired his Lunch Lady series. When Jarrett visited his school after the first book was published, he was astounded to see how much this recognition meant to Jean. This, and other acts of kindness he has seen while touring for the series, planted the seed for School Lunch Superhero Day.
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WAYS TO CELEBRATE: The SchoolLunchSuperheroDay.com website has all kinds of activities to help schools celebrate – games, activities, valentines, you name it!

TED: Besides creating a really innovative take on superheroes, Jarrett is also a really amazing individual. Last fall, he was invited to present a TED talk. His talk has over 500,000 combined views and is really inspirational. See the video here.

NEW LUNCH LADY: LUNCH LADY AND THE VIDEO GAME VILLAIN is on sale now. This is an action-packed graphic novel series with fun food-related gadgets. The series is great for beginning readers, and the latest title is reviewed here by Ronna Mandel.

BOOK REVIEW:

I first fell for the Lunch Lady series exactly three years ago (to see my first review click here) and back then there were only three books out. Now your beginning and/or reluctant reader can devour all nine and at just $6.99 each, it’s an affordable collection to own. Lunch Lady and The Video Game Villain, (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children’s Books, ages 7-10), is yet another Jarrett Krosoczka treat so hungry fans will not be disappointed with this latest serving. It packs the usual puns and punch in addition to the comical graphic illustrations at which Krosoczka excels. Hector’s friends have decided he’d make a great class president, but guess who he’s up against? None other than #15, Milmoe the menace! So does Hector even stand a chance? Plus, lots of electronic items are going missing and Lunch Lady and her cohort, Betty, decide to investigate. Will the culprit be the school janitor, Mr. Kalowski, Milmoe, or maybe the mystery man who prints his posters? Then of course, there’s poor, overworked Gavin Computo, the tech teacher. Could he possibly be involved in illegal gadget garnering? Throw in an upcoming visit from new school superintendent, Dr. Van Grindheimer, to inspect the cafeteria and the hallowed halls of Thompson Brook may be anything but … While I do recommend kids begin with the first book in the series, those eager to take a bite out of the newest installment will certainly find it satisfying.

Giveaway Rules:

One winner, chosen at random (at Random.org) from comments on our Facebook page, will receive a copy of Lunch Lady and The Video Game Villain by Jarrett Krosoczka worth ($6.99). You must LIKE us on Facebook to be eligible. All comments must be made by midnight, Friday, May 10th and a winner will be selected and notified on Saturday, May 11th.

When Insatiable Curiosity Meets Relentless Knowledge

Debbie Glade reviews today’s picture book.

Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All ($17.99, Antheum, Ages 4 and up) written and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, will make parents and teachers smile even more than the kids who read it. We parents are used to being asked question after question, and the boy in this book does just that – to the point where it becomes unbearable. Question Boy exhausts everyone in his town with his insatiable curiosity. But then one day he meets Little Miss-Now-It-All, who is full of fact after fact that she can’t keep inside (some true, some not so true). To learn how she handles Question Boy’s relentless questions, you’ll have to read the story yourself.  I promise you’ll have a good laugh at the end of the book.

Kids are going to love the fact that Question Boy is essentially a Super Hero, as are the many people in town he questions.  Readers will enjoy the vibrant watercolor illustrations and the way the story and illustrations remind them of a comic book.

I like that the book features a challenge – the showdown between Question Boy and Little Miss Know-It-All and that the boy who is full of questions and incessant energy really meets his match. There’s a lesson in that story. Read it with the child in your life, and you’re sure to figure it all out, being thoroughly entertained all the while.

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