The Royal Search for Shenanigans

The Secrets of Zen Castle Series book 1

Children - Adventure
73 Pages
Reviewed on 05/27/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Royal Search for Shenanigans is a work of fiction in the adventure sub-genre, penned for children by author Nita Marie Clark with illustrations by Kathy Doherty. This delightful and partially illustrated chapter book is a great introduction to independent reading for young children, and it forms the first book in The Secrets of Zen Castle Series. In this adventure, the forthright and confident Princess Lillian examines a treasure trove of clues that she discovers in her family heritage, which leads her to an incredible new land. Dragons, danger, and doom abound, but can Lillian learn the true rules of being a princess and save the day in time?

Author Nita Marie Clark has crafted a superb and immersive adventure novel that combines the modern and traditional fantasy fairytale genres really well. Lillian is an excellent example of a subversion of the traditional princess roles, and here she is transformed into a heroic figure who is proactive in her own destiny and decision-making. Children of all ages are sure to find enchantment in the magical elements and creative creatures within the tale, and the illustrations by Kathy Doherty will help the imagination along for young readers encountering chapter books for the first time. I also enjoyed the fact that the princess's rules present a good moral message for young readers on how to behave well and be kind and fair to others. Overall, I would highly recommend The Royal Search for Shenanigans for young readers looking for a hearty new adventure.

Patricia Reding

Princess Lilli of the Land of Zen is beloved by her parents, her Grammy, and her nanny, Miss Prudy, in The Secrets of Zen Castle, by Nita Marie Clark (with simple line drawing illustrations by Kathy N. Doherty). But while life is complete with royal duties and daily lessons to be learned, with precise manners of etiquette and protocol to follow, it becomes especially adventurous when Lilli learns that she is to occupy a new suite of rooms in the palace. Indeed, Lilli becomes the first princess to inhabit the suite since her great-great-grandmother Flora had done so, a full 100 years earlier. There, Lilli discovers something unexpected. If that excitement were not enough, Grammy gives Lilli a small wooden music box that Queen Flora had entrusted to her. Before long, Lilli finds herself in another kingdom, the Land of Shenanigans, where she meets Cadet Shenanigan O’Toole of His Royal Majesty’s Dragon Patrol, who (it just so happens), is on the lookout for princesses. Shortly after, Lilli returns home and then enlists the assistance of her friends and cousins, with whom she works to get to the bottom of some shenanigans that have been taking place at the palace.

Princess Lilli lives a charmed life—but not one that comes without duty or expectation. Indeed, right at the outset, author Nita Marie Clark sets out a series of eleven Princess Rules that would apply equally well for any young reader of The Secrets of Zen Castle, prince or princess. From “A princess always respects and protects her heritage,” to “A princess always appreciates those who love and care for her,” to “A Princess knows honesty is the best policy,” I especially enjoyed finding these tidbits scattered throughout this tale, as parents and teachers can use them to open discussions with children about appropriate actions and behavior. Also, with the Princess Rules in mind, young readers will experience principled wisdom in action as they turn the pages to join Princess Lilli on her adventures.

Trisha Dawn

Nita Marie Clark’s The Royal Search for Shenanigans delves into the adventures of an extraordinary princess named Lillian. It all started when Princess Lillian’s father became king. She was moved into her new quarters in an area that had been locked for almost a century at the request of her great-great-grandmother, Flora. It is said that it would only be opened for the Princess of Zen in the year 2017. There were beautiful antique furniture pieces and murals in her new place, but Lillian found something there worth more than any of these treasures: a satchel that was carefully hidden behind one of the drawers of her antique vanity. Little did she know that this satchel and her inheritance from her great-great-grandmother would soon be important pieces in a riddle that would decide the future of an ancient, forgotten kingdom.

The Royal Search for Shenanigans is a short, sweet, and whimsical story, a brilliant piece filled with valuable lessons. Every character was amazing and memorable throughout the plot. They each had their own part to play. I definitely adored Princess Lillian and the way she confidently faced the situation she was in. But she thought things through carefully, and although she was used to people deciding for her, she knew how to make her own decisions when push came to shove. The princess readily took responsibility for the consequences of her actions and it made me see that she had the true makings of a good leader. I also loved Toodles the dragon, even though he caused a bit of trouble for Princess Lillian. His actions made people laugh, which is something everyone sorely needed in their trying times. I was so into the story that I felt like I was actually with Princess Lillian during her adventures. It was so well-written that the whole story played in my head like a movie. The illustrations made the book even more interesting. This is definitely a magical book. Good job!