Real Fancy Girl Review: The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

For Halloween this year I was certain my girls would unanimously choose a Frozen character for their costume. But I was shocked when neither one of them did. Even more surprising was when my middle Fancy Girl enthusiastically picked a pink bat girl costume over anything princessy. She waited anxiously for the costume to arrive, and when it finally did, she didn’t take it off for hours…and then days. She transformed into a super girl. She became a caped crusader, protecting her stuffed animals and toys from evil monsters. By day, she was responsible, attentive and outgoing student, and by afternoon…she was BAT GIRL! There was nothing she couldn’t do. At around the same time this was happening, I received a copy of The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale.

Fancy Girl Review: The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale |

It is the story of Princess Magnolia, a pink-wearing and mild-mannered princess who has a secret: she is a black-wearing, monster-fighting super hero! No one else knows her secret, but her double identity is threatened with a visit by the Duchess Wigtower. Princess Magnolia is called away from her royal hosting duties to help save the goats in the kingdom. Will she can save the day and keep her secret?


#coffeetalkphotoaday Day 7 #page: a little preview of a book I'm reviewing for Fancy Girl: The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale. The girls are loving it and it's been good reading practice for Big Sis. It's about a princess with a secret identity. Stay tuned… #booksforkids #princessinblack #shannonhale #deanhale #bookreview

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The girls took one look at the cover and couldn’t WAIT to hear more of the story. This book became the bus stop book, the car book, and the bedtime book (a few times in a row). The plot of the story seemed to strike a chord with whatever the girls were imagining in their own minds. They’re both at that age where Disney princesses are still on their favorites list (well, not quite my eldest), but they are discovering interests that include action, super powers, fighting bad guys, and colors that are not so pink. In this story, Princess Magnolia is told that “princess don’t wear black,” but this Fancy Girl household would beg to differ!

Both my girls have read/listened to the book, but my middle one (the pink bat girl) keeps it close by. I would say the reading level of the book is around late 1st grade/early 2nd grade; the chapter pages have about a paragraph on each page, but the words are common enough that my eldest is able to read some of the sentences. On a conceptual level, both girls were able to follow the story and then answer some “what if” questions related to their own lives. For the most part, the girls liked how Princess Magnolia saved goats from a big blue monster. They didn’t focus so much on her pink wardrobe and her crown, but rather enjoyed reenacting the moment when the Princess in Black saved the day! Since the girls have also been so expressive with their enjoyment of the book, I thought this would be a good time to set up a YouTube channel for Fancy Girl. As part of our video recap of the book, I asked them both what they would do with a secret princess power. Have a look below and ask your own Fancy Girls they same thing.

The Princess in Black is a great book to read around the Halloween season, since kids are already in the imaginary and creative mindset of picking costumes. I like that the book gives kids something to think about at the end, other than a happy ending fairy tale. And with other girl-power literary figures out there like Mighty Girl, it’s nice to have another super girl to add to list of influential book characters. For more information, including how to order the book, visit

About the Creators

Shannon and Dean Hale are the husband-and-wife writing team behind the graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack, both illustrated by Nathan Hale. Shannon Hale is also the New York Times best-selling author of nine children’s and young adult novels, including multiple award winners The Goose Girl, Book of a Thousand Days, and the Newbery Honor recipient Princess Academy. Her latest, Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends, was published in October 2013. She is also the author of three books for adults, beginning with Austenland, which is now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with their four children.

LeUyen Pham is the illustrator of many books for children, including God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and Aunt Mary’s Rose by Douglas Wood, as well as the Freckleface Strawberry books by Julianne Moore. LeUyen Pham lives in California.


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