For a chapter-by-chapter summary, see the Princess Academy wiki's article.
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
The idea for Princess Academy came to Shannon Hale in Autumn 2003, she and her husband, Dean Hale, were discussing their recent reads. Dean Hale mentioned that the main character was a tutor to the princess, and this idea was stuck in poor Mrs. Hale's head. For over a year, she contemplated the thought before she began writing.
She initially thought it would be easier to write than her first two books, her reasons being that it would be shorter and slightly younger, but this was not the case. It took Hale four months to write the first draft, but she put the project aside. After the birth of her son in 2003, Hale returned to the novel. She did a total of twelve drafts on the book before it became the Princess Academy we know.
- Newbery Honor Book
- New York Times, Book Sense, and PW Best Seller
- A Book Sense Pick for Fall 2005
- An ALA Notable Children's Book
- 2007 Beehive Award winner
- A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
- A New England Booksellers Association Top 10 Titles for Fall
- A Book for the Teen Age by The New York Public Library
- Honorable Mention for "Favorite Novel of the Year," PW's 2005 Cuffie Awards
- Winner of the 2006 Utah Children's Book Award
- A Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year, starred entry
- Nominated for the 2008 Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award
- Nominated for the 2008 Colorado Children's Book Award
- Nominated for the 2008 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award
- Nominated for the 2008 Young Reader's Choice Award, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association
- Nominated for the Illinois 2008 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award
- Nominated for the 2010 Maud Hart Lovelace award (Minnesota)
- A 2007 DCF Voting Top Ten (Vermont)
- A Salt Lake Tribune Best Book of 2005
- Recommended Reads for Kids 2005 (Dover Community News)
- A 2013 Popular Paperback for Young Adults (YALSA)