Top Ten Teen Book selection, American Library Association, and Josette Frank Award for Fiction, both 2003, and Humpty Dumpty Chapter Book Award, 2004, all for The Goose Girl.
The Goose Girl, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
Enna Burning, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
Princess Academy, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
Shannon Hale is the author of the critically acclaimed young-adult novel The Goose Girl and its companion volume, Enna Burning. The Goose Girl, a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, concerns Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, the crown princess of Kildenree. Princess Ani possesses the remarkable ability to speak to animals, especially birds, yet she fails to connect with her fellow humans. This disappoints Ani's mother, the queen, and she arranges for her daughter to be married to a prince in Bayern, a neighboring kingdom. During the journey to her new home, Ani is betrayed by Selia, her ambitious lady-in-waiting, who steals Ani's identity and attempts to murder the princess. Ani escapes into the forest, takes refuge with a kindly woman, and eventually makes her way to the royal palace in Bayern, where she serves as a goose herder while Selia poses as princess in her stead. When Ani learns of Selia's plot to incite a war between Kildenree and Bayern, she must rally the forest dwellers and farmhands to help her reclaim her rightful position. "Hale's retelling is a wonderfully rich one, full of eloquent description and lovely imagery, and with a complex plot, a large cast of characters, and a strong female protagonist," noted Connie Tyrrell Burns in School Library Journal. Anne O'Malley, reviewing the work in Booklist, called The Goose Girl "a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion."
Hale chose to retell "The Goose Girl," a favorite story from her childhood, because of its timelessness, as she told an interviewer on the Embracing the Child Web site. "The old tales, the tales the Grimm Brothers collected, lasted for decades and centuries for a reason," Hale commented. "There's a reason 'The Goose Girl' was worth telling generation after generation, passed from mother to daughter, persevering orally until it was written down in the nineteenth century. That's a story worth telling. That's a story that's going to resonate with a reader and yet surprise her still, a tale both old and new."
Enna, a forest girl who befriends Princess Ani in The Goose Girl, is the protagonist of Hale's 2004 novel Enna Burning. Having watched her brother develop the mysterious ability to speak to fire, only to lose his life while fighting an invading army, Enna decides to learn his secrets and assume her brother's role as a protector of the kingdom. She soon realizes, however, that fire is not easily controlled, and her newfound power places her in danger. "Enna's fire can be seen as desire, or a drug, or the will to power, or simply as a gift that must be made manifest," wrote a critic in Kirkus Reviews. "Hale has a deft touch with her prose and characterization," Charles de Lint observed in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. "The story is fast-paced and satisfying," the critic added, "and I especially liked how she was able to depict the ability to speak with the elements as both a wondrous thing and a terrible, soul-destroying power."
"I love the possibilities of fantasy," Hale told Dennis Lythgoe in the Deseret Morning News. "I heard someone say once that fantasy makes adults feel the wonder of childhood again—when everything was new." She continued, "I've longed for a merging of fantasy and literary fiction. I like the excitement, the page-turning feel of fantasy." Princess Academy, Hale's 2005 work, continues the author's page-turning trend; it follows the adventures of Miri who, along with the other girls of her village, attends a special school for budding princesses.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 2003, Anne O'Malley, review of The Goose Girl, p. 1971; September 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Enna Burning, p. 232.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of The Goose Girl, p. 910; September 12, 2004, review of Enna Burning, p. 866.
Kliatt, July, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of The Goose Girl, p. 12.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January, 2005, Charles de Lint, review of Enna Burning, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2003, review of The Goose Girl, p. 80.
School Library Journal, August, 2003, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of The Goose Girl, p. 160; September, 2004, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of Enna Burning, p. 206.
Bloomsbury USA Web site, http://www.bloomsburyusa.com/ (February 1, 2005), "Shannon Hale."
Deseret Morning News Online, http://deseretnews.com/ (August 17, 2003), Dennis Lythgoe, "Author Born to Tell Stories."
Embracing the Child Web site, http://www.embracingthechild.org/ (July, 2003), interview with Hale.
Shannon Hale Web site, http://www.squeetus.com (February 1, 2005).