I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My girls are big fans of The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale (with illustrations by LeUyen Pham), so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation.

This is the fourth book in the series, so that means that Princess Magnolia has been fighting monsters for quite awhile. Of course, real princesses don’t fight monsters (big wink), so she transforms into The Princess in Black when the going gets tough. All of this sneaking and costume changes and subterfuge have been quite exhausting, and Princess Magnolia decides to take a seaside vacation. Will she be able to enjoy some quiet time on the beach- or will a monster ruin her plans for rest and relaxation?

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation is an adorable book. The writing is very witty, and it’s wonderful to see a book with a strong female lead. It’s also surprisingly realistic; fighting monsters is pure fantasy, but it’s easy to empathize with being exhausted from too much work.

The illustrations are adorable. There are illustrations on almost every page, which enhance the narrative and help readers maintain their concentration. These illustrations are full of little details, and it was very funny seeing Princess Magnolia’s reaction to the monster on the beach. We also enjoyed seeing Princess Magnolia’s friend The Goat Avenger trying to maintain law and order back at the palace.

This book is perfect for children who are confident readers, but not quite ready for full-length chapter books on their own. The book is longer than a picture book, and it is broken up into chapters. However, the font is larger than regular paperback, and there are not as many lines on each page. This book could read in one sitting, but the chapters make it easy to break up into multiple reading sessions.

I would recommend The Princess in Black Take a Vacation. This book functions well as a standalone, so you don’t have to read the other books in the series first. My girls are 7 and 9 years old, and they both liked this book. My “big kid” reads middle grade novels, but she said that this was a funny book. Likewise, my seven-year-old twins enjoyed reading this book too. We are looking forward to reading more books from Shannon Hale!

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