Sunday, February 12, 2012

When Did Princess Become a Dirty Word?

Ok, I admit it.  I was thrilled when I had a daughter that I could revisit all the princess stories I loved so much as a child.  What's more, she loved the princesses as much as I had at her age.  But all the messaging I was getting as a parent now was that girls shouldn't be victims to the princess mindset.  "It limits their imagination,"  "they will think they need to be rescued," and "we want girls to know they can be anything."

I also fear that Disney has created a princess mentality which caters to a very young audience, and turns girls off to the princess theme as babyish.  Princesses are simply marketing to a preschool set, instead of the complex characters and stories of the original fairytales, which often times did not have a happily ever after!

The authors whose books I have profiled today have created princesses who are intelligent, funny and human.  These princess are limited only by their own aspirations, and if they get to wear a tiara at the same time, more power to them!   I hope some of the magic of the original princess fairytales are not lost in our current environment, and these books are a great start!

Don't forget to "like" one great book on Facebook!

Title:          Falling for Rapunzel
Author:      Leah Wilcox
Target:       Preschool-Grade 2
What this book is about:
Told in rhymes, this book is a funny take on the tale of Rapunzel.  The prince thinks Rapunzel’s bad hair day is a cry for help, and he tries repeatedly to save her by asking her to throw down her hair.  Our hard of hearing Rapunzel throws down just about everything else, in an attempt to understand the fellow.
Why I love this book:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, throw down your hair!”
“She thought he said “Your underwear.””
Ok, what kids (or frankly kid at heart) wouldn’t laugh at that!  Each attempt to rephrase his request sends something funnier down from the tower.  Since it is rhyming, kids have a wonderful time guessing what is next.  Inspired illustrations just add to the humor.  
Who this is for:
Any kids who love silly stories.  Fun for early readers as they guess the next word in the rhymes.
Final thoughts:
Not everything in life turns out as you expect!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: Falling For Rapunzel

Title:          The Ordinary Princess
Author:     M.M. Kaye
Target:      Grades 3-5
Series:        No
What the story is about:
What would happen to a princess, if on her christening day, she was given the gift of  being “ordinary.”  Well, unlike her six gorgeous and princess like sisters, she is not confined to the palace and is able to develop all her own interests.  When her parents try unsuccessfully to marry her off, she goes out on her own and finds hard work and adventures she never imagined.
Why I love this book:
This book is absolutely charming and funny!  It’s one of those books that I pick up and wonder why I have never heard of it before.  Despite the fact that it was written 30 years ago, the story is so heartwarming that it never feels dated.  There is also intelligent humor sprinkled throughout so the story never feels too sappy.
Who this book is for:
Any girl who loves a good fairytale and needs to be reminded how special she is!
Final thoughts:
This book is the opposite of ordinary, it is a precocious little gem!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: The Ordinary Princess

Book:          Princess Academy

Author:     Shannon Hale
Target:      Grades 5-8
Series:       No 
Newbery Honor Book
What this book is about:
The story is set in the fictional territory of Mount Eskel, a mountain village that revolves around a quarry.  When the prince of the land declares he will chose a bride from their village, all the eligible girls are sent to attend a special academy to learn the customs of the “lowlanders.”  It is here they discover the freedom that education can provide for them.   They also confront what it means to be selected by the prince, the effects of friendship, the power of competition and the ability to lead
Why I love it:
Don’t let the title of this book put you off, because it is the only flaw in this story.  It is not a fluffy book about girls becoming stereotypical princesses.   It is a complex story about girls discovering their values, defining home, their relationships and the value of education.  
It took a few chapters for me to get into the story.  The main character, Miri, didn’t appeal to me at first, but  stick with it, as my appreciation of her grew tremendously throughout the book.  The book has enough action and suspense to keep the reader engaged through the larger life lessons.  
Who this book is for:
Girls will appreciate the characters in this book and also enjoy the fact that it has plenty of action!
Final thoughts:
A true surprise of a book!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: Princess Academy

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