Friday, December 29, 2017

The Princess in Black takes a vacation; The Princess in Black and the mysterious playdate by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

I fell in love with the first Princess in Black book, as did many others and now it's so nice to revisit the series and see that it's still going strong and just as good as ever!

In her fourth adventure, the Princess in Black has been battling monsters all night and she's exhausted! Just when she's about to take a well-deserved nap, the monster bell rings again and she's back in the field. But she's too tired to do more than a "SLEEPY SLAM!" and yawn at the monster! Fortunately, she's not alone - the mysterious Goat Avenger shows up, ready to help her save the day - and give her a much-needed break. A vacation is just what Princess Magnolia needs and soon she's relaxing on the beach with Princess Sneezewort. But then a sea monster shows up! Will she ever get some sleep and her vacation in the sun? Meanwhile, the Goat Avenger is having his own problems keeping things under control back in the kingdom. Will the monsters take over while the Princess in Black is on vacation?

Fortunately, it all ends well since in her next adventure, the Princess in Black is taking another day off - for a playdate with Princess Sneezewort! While the Goat Avenger keeps the monsters away from the goats back at home, Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants, her unicorn, set off for the neighboring city. She and Sneezewort are having a lovely time when a monster attacks! Where could it have come from? Luckily, the Princess in Black just happens to be there, but she's having no success in tracking down the sneaky monster. Maybe she needs some help? Well, there's a new superheroine on the scene - the Princess in Blankets! Princess Sneezewort has read all about the Princess in Black and is determined to help protect her kingdom - but first they need to find the monster before they can fight it. It turns out that the Princess in Blanket has her own special skills, which are just what's needed to track down one sneaky, kitty-menacing, fluffy orange monster!

Pham's bright illustrations are as adorable as ever. Plump Princess Magnolia is both snazzy and cute, even when she's falling asleep while trying to fight monsters! It's fun to see more of the darker-skinned Goat Avenger and Princess Sneezewort, whose cheerful personalities shine through the cute illustrations and keep the stories moving briskly. The monsters continue their fuzzy but naughty theme, with some very charming pictures of the sneaky orange monster in the second book turning himself into different things to hide.

Verdict: These are pitch-perfect beginning chapter books, always a hit with my early readers up through upper elementary who still love the humor and pictures. They appeal to both boys and girls and make great family reads as well - don't be surprised if you have lots of Goat Avengers and Princess in Blankets running around your house and library after these latest titles!

Princess in Black takes a vacation
ISBN: 9780763665128; Published 2016 by Candlewick; Purchased for the library

Princess in Black and the mysterious playdate
ISBN: 9780763688264; Published 2017 by Candlewick; Purchased for the library

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