The Princess and the Goblin

Author(s): 
George MacDonald
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Princess and the Goblin is a classic fantasy novel written in the late 1800s by George MacDonald. The story features all of the elements of a great fairy tale: a young princess, a brave hero on the verge of adulthood, subtle magic, and more goblins than can be counted. There is enough adventure to keep the story moving, but the plot is not overwhelming or difficult to follow. There is nothing to recommend a caution for: no rough language, no adult situations, and very little violence. The violent scenes were in the context of the battles between good and evil and avoided gory descriptions. We read this novel in a beautifully illustrated edition; it is worth looking for one that has the lovely full-color plates.

But more than that, the story is written on several levels and can be enjoyed by many different age groups. After reading The Mysteries of Life in Children's Literature, I was anxious to begin reading this book aloud to my children. I had hesitated, thinking that my mainly-male audience would protest a "fairy tale". Their reaction surprised me! All of the children looked forward to the next chapter of the book, although the 9- and 12-year-olds enjoyed it the most.

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