Miri lives in a small village on Mount Eskel. Her village’s only notable export is linder – a special type of stone that is only found on the mountain. Every block of linder counts, because trading it is the only thing that allows the villagers to survive the winter.
When the linder traders come, they bring news. The prince of Danland is ready to be engaged, and the king’s fortune tellers have learned that his future bride is a girl living on Mount Eskel. As a result, a tutor establishes a princess academy – a school to teach girls everything they will need to know to become a princess.
At first, things are fairly miserable at the academy. The girls’ tutor believes in strict discipline, and she locks misbehaving girls in cupboards and refuses to let them visit their families on rest days. But the girls apply their lessons to their predicament and stage a walk-out before negotiating the terms of their return.
When classes resume, Miri learns far more than just polite conversation. She learns things that could make the villagers’ lives much better and discovers the secret of quarry-speak, a special type of language used by the stonecutters. But Miri starts to worry that these discoveries might not help her family if she’s chosen by the prince.
Can Miri complete her studies? Can her discoveries help her family and the other villagers? Will the prince choose Miri?
Princess Academy and its sequels, by Shannon Hale, are shelved upstairs in the juvenile fiction and juvenile paperback sections of the Children’s Department.