Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale

The Princess in Black, #6
by Shannon Hale 
Illustrated by Dean Hale
Candlewick Press
Children's Humor/ Adventure / Fantasy
96 pages
ages 6 to 10

It’s mayhem at the science fair! A squishy goo monster is a challenge for the Princess in Black — but luckily some science-loving princesses are on hand to help.

Princess Magnolia is excited. Excited and nervous. She’s going to the Interkingdom Science Fair today to present her poster about seeds and plants, and when she arrives, she sees that her friends are there too! Princess Honeysuckle made a mole habitat, Princess Sneezewort has built a blanket fort, and Tommy Wigtower has a talking volcano that’s saying “EAAAAT!” Wait, what? A surprise goo monster makes this a job for the Princess in Black, and the Princess in Blankets is on the scene to lend a hand. But will two masked heroes be enough to save the science fair? A little scientific problem-solving — and a lot of princess power — will make the sixth entry in the New York Times best-selling series a smash hit.


Dainty princess meets princess power in an adventure which brings fantasy, humor and even science under one tiara.

Princess Magnolia is excited and nervous about her trip and contribution to the science fair. She didn't really spend much time on it and is not sure what to expect. Upon arrival, she meets her princess friends and each has a project which leaves hers looking more miserable with each step she takes. When she reaches Tommy's project, she notices something isn't right. The volcano refuses to explode, and it talks! Only the Princess in Black can solve what happens next.

This chapter book is great for readers who are pretty sure of their words, but aren't ready to dive into anything difficult. The sentences are kept short and simple as well as most of the vocabulary. At first, it came across as almost too simple but the story grabs quickly to create a fun, easy read. Each page holds bright and fun illustrations, while the text—written in a large font—never comes across as too much or heavy. It's a great balance which won't scare off more reluctant readers.

The author does a lovely job at mixing princess puffiness and perfect etiquette with bold and adventurous heroism. The princess are sweet yet a little fumbly and awkward, while still being prim and proper. It makes each one easy to love and promises a dash of silliness and excitement. The toss in of monsters hit a little quirky at first, but it works and adds the right zest to the adventure.

There's also a dab of science in this adventure, but never too much. Each project at the fair glides over with a quick bit of information but it's so light that readers catch it without feeling sciency. Later, the projects are brought in again as the princesses do their best to handle the goo monster. The science aspects don't run deep, but they are there and open up kids to some basic concepts.

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