"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, July 13, 2012

ALA Bookstack: Palace of Stone

I came back from the #ALA12 Conference with a #bookstack I could not wait to dive into.

The second book I stepped into Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale.

The long awaited sequel to Princess Academy, Palace of Stone is a page turner.  With elements of romance, political unrest and suspense, it will quickly engage readers.  Miri, Peder, Esa, Gerti and other familiar characters have come down off the mountain to face a new life in Asland, where their friend Britta is soon to become the Princess. Miri must navigate not only a new environment in Asland, but also navigate new friendships and new ideas, which could threaten the life she has known.

It will be interesting to see how readers connect the social and ethical issues in this story to those of the present day. These issues are additionally brought to light in the letters Miri writes to her sister, Marda.

"I worry that much of my letters makes no sense to you, Marda. I do not want to think anything separates us but the distance itself. I do not want to become someone you would not understand."

The letters give insight into Miri's internal struggles regarding: Eskel and Asland: Peder and a new acquaintance, Timon; and, the inequities in the kingdom.

"I'm on the mountain

But the mount's in me

I can't shake the dust

I won't wash it free."
I love how the mountain and its precious Linder stone create a unifying element both between the two books and among the story threads within this book.  It seems so fitting that this earthly substance should ground both stories (no pun intended!).  Hale effectively employs the Eskalites' gift for Quarry-Speech in the low lander environment.  I would like to believe in this and other gifts the Linder bestows as I am fascinated with geological history.  Who walked on these rocks?  How far have they traveled?  I love this very tangible connection to this Earth, our island home.   

But I digress!  Back to the book!  

A great cast of characters, a Kingdom experiencing social unrest, and friendships pushed to the brink revealing loyalties and betrayals all guarantee that Princess Academy: Palace of Stone will be a top circulating book.


Readers are readers no matter their resources and readers know great books.

**Just a quick note about Princess Academy.  For five years I split my work week between a suburban school and an urban school.  (That’s right, I worked in two different districts in two very different schools. ) I spent part of the week in my “galley kitchen” library of 1000 books, replete with old fashioned book pockets and cards, in a school of 250 students and the other part of the week job sharing in a fully-automated, fully-stocked library, with a collection of 12,000 books, in a school of 380 students. Princess Academy was a top circulating book in both libraries.  How cool is that.

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