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Shannon Hale

Diana: Princess of the Amazons

Eleven-year-old Diana is lonely! She is the only kid on the entire island full of Amazons. Though she loves her mother and all her aunts, she feels like everyone is now too busy for her. Remembering the story of her birth, she sculpts a friend out of clay and sand and tries to breathe life into her. To Diana’s surprise, her friend Mona comes to life! Mona and Diana run around, have fun, and create mischief together. It’s all fun and games until the daring Mona tries to recruit Diana into a prank that – in Diana’s opinion – goes too far. Did Diana create a friend, or a monster?

Shannon and Dean Hale are a husband and wife team of juvenile books. Shannon has written the award-winning Princess Academy and the Ever After High book series for children. It’s easy to see here why they make a good team! Their Diana is too old to consider herself a kid, but too young for anything else. She feels like it’s impossible to be like the women she’s grown up with and looks up to. They perfectly captured that frustration and loneliness everyone her age feels.

The art is, frankly, adorable. I loved the soft, rounded, and expressive figures, which children will love and are easy to look at. The palette is bright and colorful, in jewel tones that perfectly reflect Diana’s island home. The limited action scenes read a little goofy to me, as I’m an adult reading a children’s book, but there is no excessive violence and no blood. I’d happily give it to a child who expresses interest in it without worrying that they would get scared.

Here is a rare book of a Diana who is not yet Wonder Woman, but not a child anymore either. The target audience will see their own feelings reflected in Diana, and will easily be able to navigate the adorable art.

– Kathleen

Hale, Shannon, Dean Hale, and Victoria Ying. Diana: Princess of the Amazons. 2020.

Rapunzel’s Revenge

rap-revenge
Hale, Shannon & Dean, Nathan Hale. Rapunzel’s Revenge. 2008.

Continuing with my fairy tale theme, this week we meet Rapunzel- who is a spunky red headed cowgirl who can lasso her hair like no one’s business!

We first meet Rapunzel as a preteen who lives in a lush villa with her mother and servants. She is adequately cared for but not coddled by her stern mother, but is plagued by a dream of being loved by another couple. As she starts to question why the walls are so high around her home, she uses the lassoing skills to climb up and explore what is beyond the boundaries of her home. Discovering a wasteland, she sneaks out and by chance meets her enslaved biological mother who explains how she came to live with the magical Mother Gothel. After confronting Gothel, Rapunzel is banished to another part of the kingdom and imprisoned in a tall tree.

Rapunzel is left to her own devices for several years, and while the mystical forest provides her with food, the spell also seems to affect the growth of her hair. Mother Gothel only visits her once a year to see if she repents, and in the mean time Rapunzel hones her skills of utilizing her long hair as a weapon. She escapes without any one’s assistance, and ends up meeting Jack, a young con man on the run. Their wild-west escapades together were fun and relatable, for not everything goes their way, despite them doing their best to help others they encounter.  Rapunzel and Jack (of beanstalk fame) join in a traveling vaudeville show to camouflage their way back into the villa, and there they create chaos and challenge Mother Gothel and her evil ways.

The illustrations are fun and vibrant, and give Rapunzel a Pippi Longstocking vibe- which I love. The characters in the story are a diverse group, which was appreciated, and drawn well. This appealing fairy tale hews closely to the classic story, but adds enough extras to make it fun and different. Definitely recommended to younger readers!

-Nancy

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