The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Play Date by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 96 pp, RL 2

It's been three years since Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham brought Princess Magnolia and her awesome alter-ego (and fantastic Halloween costume) into the world. And it's such a better place since then! Just today, I had a first grader (who was a kindergartener but a few months ago) come to check out the second book in the series, The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party. I asked her if she could read the words and was about to put an easier book in her hand when she launched into this amazing explanation of how, even though she couldn't read the words, she loved the pictures in the book, especially the birthday party. I keep a stash of paperback books to give to students and I just happened to have the very book she was rapturously describing at hand. I wrote her name in it and handed it to her knowing that she would pore over this book, again and again until she could read it. There are so many noteworthy, marvelous, special things about this series, but the love I see my students have for them has to be the best. I can't wait to put The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate on the shelves!

I think I probably say this with every new book in the series, but I honestly think that The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate is my favorite book in the series! There is a new shape-shifting, pet eating monster and Princess Sneezewort is back and she has a secret of her own. Best of all, readers get a glimpse of Princess Sneezewort's kingdom when Princess Magnolia goes to her castle for a playdate.
Unbeknownst to Princesses Magnolia and Sneezewort, the shape-shifting monster has hitched a ride on Magnolia's cart and pony. As the princesses are playing, they hear a call for help from outside - a monster is trying to eat a kitty. Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants do their thing, of course. But the greatest surprise comes when Princess Sneezewort, who has been reading about the Princess in Black in Princess magazine, decides to help save her kingdom by trying something new. Heading into linen closet, she emerges as . . . the Princess in Blankets!

The Princess in Blankets may not have ninja moves, but she has a steed, (Sir Hogswell becomes Corny, the unicorn pig) and she is extremely good at camouflaging herself (as a boy with a llama points out), which proves to be just the move she needs to save the day. I hope that there are at least another five books in this fantastic series! I know there will always be readers who will talk to me rapturously about how much they love these books!

The Princess in Black Series:

Source: Review Copy

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