The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare
The latest entry in Shannon and Dean Hale’s popular Princess in Black series is sure to charm their legions of young readers. Like the other tales, it stars Princess Magnolia, a plucky young princess who enjoys the best of both worlds—from tiara wearing to monster hunting—for her secret identity is none other than the mysterious Princess in Black, who helps keep the monsters at bay.
This time around, the excited (and nervous) Princess Magnolia is headed to the Interkingdom Science Fair to present her poster about seeds and plants. Of course, her friends have their projects, too, and the way the Hales reveal the trouble about to emerge at the fair is typically fun and amusing:
“Princess Magnolia hugged her poster. It felt small and silly next to the mole habitat. And the egg in a bottle. And the blanket fort. And the bucket lifter. And Tommy Wigtower’s talking volcano. Wait, what?”
The Hales do a nice job working in some light science concepts, like how to do the egg in a bottle trick and how to make a papier-mache volcano erupt, but the focus here is on friendships, humor, and action. Of course the book’s violence (such as it is) is always appropriate to the tender age of its readers, with mild combat (sometimes involving tickling) and attempts at problem-solving before any fighting erupts.
Throughout, LeUyen Pham’s colorful illustrations provide the perfect counterpoint to the text, managing to be both charming and sly. (The goo monster riding on a crowded train is particularly fun.)
The tale’s satisfying ending sets up the next book nicely by foreshadowing the arrival of more princess heroes. If that book is anything like this one, readers who like their princesses served up with a dash of swashbuckling won’t be able to wait until it arrives.