The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation by Shannon & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 96 pp, RL2

If you are new to Princess Magnolia and her alter ego, the Princess in Black, while you do not really need to read these books in order, DO NOT start with The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation! There is a major plot surprise (oh, okay, I saw it coming in the first book. . .) and something new for Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants, a.k.a. Blacky, her faithful steed. The delight I (and, quite happily, my students) take in these marvelous, magnificent, spectacularly illustrated books is immense. The Princess in Black series allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds and all that is (mostly) great about being a girl today. We get to see the castle, the tea parties, the froufrou pink dresses and the wild princess parties (Book 2, The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, happens to be my favorite) and we also get to see the Princess in Black don a mask and give monsters some serious smackdowns with awesome moves like the Serpent Slip, the Forehead Crash and Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash. Best of all, Hale, Hale and Pham have created highly engaging books that are ideal for emerging readers, books I like to call "bridge books." They are the perfect step up for kids who are ready to move up from leveled readers like Frog & Toad and Fancy Nancy but not yet ready for traditional chapter books like the Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. The font is large, the illustrations are generous and the page count is around 90 in this series.

I can't go on enough about how much I live The Princess in Black series and I hope it never ends. I received my review copy of The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation about two weeks before the publication date. I knew I just had to bring it to the library, where we have four copies of each of the first three books in our collection but rarely on the shelf, even though I hadn't read it yet. A second grader spotted, squealed and asked me to PLEASE read it to her. It was a hectic recess period, so we leaned against the circulation desk and read the first six chapters. Other girls crowded around when they saw what we were reading. At lunch recess, we had the luxury of plopping down on the dusty old purple couch in the library and reading the next three chapters. We finished the book the next day and I put it into circulation. Now the hard part comes - having only one copy of The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation on the shelf until my order of three library bound copies comes in!

The Princess in Black Series

Source: Review Copy

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