I don’t remember exactly how I discovered the “The Princess in Black” series of books. Maybe I found it on a list of books for young girls. Or perhaps it happened to catch my eye as I walked through the library. Whatever the reason I checked that first book out, I’m glad I did and my 7-year old is too. She really loves these books!
The first question, at least for me, was why black? When I was a kid my dad answered the obligatory favorite color question with black and, I have to tell you, I was pretty sure he was pulling my leg. Not to mention it isn’t your typical color for a princess. So when I saw “The Princess in Black” books, I was curious about the choice.
According to the origin story on the author Shannon Hale’s website (she writes the books with her husband, Dean Hale), the idea came from a conversation with her daughter who was sure princesses would never wear black. So princess Magnolia was born, a superhero princess who wears black and fights monsters with sweet ninja moves.
Princess Magnolia and her friends are kind, smart and kick monster butt. What’s not to like?
After we read the first book, we quickly checked out several more. The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate, The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare and The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle were all just as fun and interesting as the first book in the series. The only two we have left are The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem and The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party.
The books are chapter books but short and easy enough to read in one night. One of the characters is Goat Boy, also a superhero who fights monsters, which may help princess adverse boys enjoy the books. Additional princesses come into the books later in the series, adding princesses of color from a variety of cultures to the cast. I was very glad to see that and it added a lot to the books.
The illustrations are one of the best parts of the series. Artist LeUyen Pham kept us laughing and searching the pages for interesting details her art added to the story.
My daughter has never really been big on princesses. I may have gone overboard on making sure she knew that she wasn’t limited to only princesses dressed in frilly pink. These books help her enjoy the best of both worlds, princesses and feminist ideals.