cover image The Princess in Black

The Princess in Black

Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illus. by LeUyen Pham. Candlewick, $14.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6510-4

With her cherubic face, gold curls, sparkly tiara, glass slippers, and meringuelike pink-on-pink ensemble, Princess Magnolia seems the epitome of a “prim and perfect” princess. But she has a secret life, one that involves donning a stylish black costume and defeating monsters (who are more goofy than scary, truth be told) that threaten her kingdom. The Hales (Rapunzel’s Revenge) drop narrative breadcrumbs throughout the story, setting up subsequent titles in the planned series, and they build comic tension by alternating scenes of the masked princess’s monster-fighting with ones starring Duchess Wigtower, who Princess Magnolia has left waiting back at her castle, and who has a fondness for uncovering secrets. “The Princess in Black hoped the duchess would not snoop,” ends chapter six, as the heroine is seen tying up a furry blue monster. “The duchess began to snoop,” begins chapter seven. Pham (A Piece of Cake) offers little jolts of energy and wit on every page, with full-page and spot illustrations that have the vivaciousness and irreverence of contemporary animation. Ages 5–8. Authors’ agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)