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Seriously, you should totally read this.

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The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham

Image from

Image from

Hale, S., Hale, D., & Pham, L. (ill.) (2014). The Princess in Black. Candlewick Press: Massachusetts. ISBN: 9780763665104

Annotation: When the monster alarm rings, Princess Magnolia jumps into action and transforms into her monster fighting alter ego, the Princess in Black!

Reaction: In this short beginning chapter book, the Hales introduce readers to the wonderful character of Princess Magnolia, who is a perfect, pink-wearing princess, until it’s time to kick some monster tush. Then it’s time for Princess Magnolia to don practical shorts, boots and a cape in black.

One of the best things about this book is the way Princess Magnolia embraces both sides of herself: the girly, super feminine princess and the strong, capable, monster-tush-kicking superheroine. I recently came across a great article about how it does a disservice to children and women to treat girliness as being less good than tomboyishness, and I think, in light of that, the Hales have done something remarkable here. This is a book that tells children that being feminine and wearing pink is great! And so is going out and saving the kingdom from monsters! The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and that’s a great lesson.

On top of that, the story is engaging and funny, and though this story is pretty brief, the Hales have managed to create fully realized characters and a world around them. The illustrations are bright and colorful and add a lot of whimsy and humor to the text.

I really, really hope there are going to be more adventures of Princess Magnolia/the Princess in Black. The Hales have only begun to scratch the surface in this one.

Media used: watercolor and ink

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

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Hale, Dean & Shannon (authors) and Hale, Nathan (illustrator) (2008). Rapunzel’s Revenge. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN-13: 978-1-59990-288-3

Annotation: In this adaptation of “Rapunzel,” the heroine rescues herself, then wields her hair lassos and whips to rescue the rest of the country from the witch who has everyone under her power.

Reaction: Rapunzel’s Revenge is a fun retelling, featuring a strong-willed, independent Rapunzel who isn’t going to wait around for her prince to come find her. She is strong and confident and ready to take on the world, which makes her a great role model for tweens who are going through a rough transistionary time.

The protagonists are drawn in vivid colors, setting them off most of the other characters, who are drawn predominately in shades of brown, which is a testament to the hard lives they lead trying to eke out a living from land that is increasingly barren thanks to Gothel’s strict rule. Panels of the story are evenly laid out and keep the story flowing smoothly. After growing up in the Southwest, I love the deserty setting, and the rough Western movie vibe that most of the supporting characters bring to the story.

This book was included on the 2011 Students’ List for “Books receiving vote for Top Ten Favorites from students in Summer 2011.”

Media Used: Drawn with ink on bristol board, and was colored in Photoshop using a Cintiq display.

Shannon Hale’s Website
Dean Hale’s Website
Nathan Hale’s Website