The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Candlewick Press, 2022. 9781536209778
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? An aquatic adventure awaits our heroine in this ninth installment of the popular early chapter book series. While on a princess hero playdate sailing with her two best friends, the Princess in Blankets and the Goat Avenger, the Princess in Black secretly hopes to spot a mermaid. Her wish quickly comes true, and the trio soon meets Princess Posy. Princess Posy fears that she is failing at her royal duty of protecting her kingdom. When she surmises that the Princess in Black and her friends are heroes, she invites them to her mermaid realm. After marveling at the beauty and biodiversity under the waves, they come up with a plan to face Krakens and save the capricorns (sea goats), in a scheme very similar to the plot of the first book in the series, and also encourage Princess Posy to be more assertive in her royal role. They end their day, happy in the waves and the sunshine and the knowledge that they have helped someone, with a party with new friends on the back of a huge sea monster, last seen in The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation.
The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess has all the winning features that have made this series such a big hit. Action, adventure, camaraderie, humor, and monsters abound both above and below the water’s surface, all illustrated with lively, jewel-toned watercolors on every page. Clever dialog, rich vocabulary, and use of sound effects make for a fun read aloud or one-on-one sharing, but short chapters, repetitive phrases, and a large font make it a great choice for newly independent readers too. The running joke that none of the heroes recognize their friends’ alter egos is prominent in this outing (they only appear in their hero guises), but their strong friendships save the day regardless of which identity they are using. Series fans will also love the way the details of Posy’s underwater world so closely parallel events and characters on land in several previous books: for example, Posy has a faithful narwhal named Krimpledance, and contends with the snooty Duchess Squidflower. The Princess in Black and her friends present as white; Princess Posy is Black.
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Fans of the series, students looking for easy chapter books with fantasy elements and strong female characters.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction (series chapter books)
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: February 24, 2022