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Too Many Tiaras September 7, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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My co-worker Kristen told me last week that she had been to a birthday party for a three year old girl where more than half the presents were tiaras and magic wands–she was the only person who brought a book as a gift. While we often get parents, grandparents and family friends in the store who tell us “She loves pink–anything frilly and fancy will be great!”, we just as often have relatives saying “Well, she’s a real girly girl…but do you have any princess books that aren’t quite so sugary?” Here, to solve the crisis of too many tiaras, are some old and new favorites for those who like their princesses just a little bit subversive.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

A true classic, Princess Elizabeth is engaged to Prince Ronald, when a dragon comes by who steals the prince and burns up all Elizabeth’s princess clothes. She has to wear a paper while going off to rescue her true love with cunning and strategy. Does the prince appreciate her efforts? Well….

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole

This is another tale of a princess who doesn’t quite make it to the altar–and is perfectly happy about it! To avoid having to choose a prince for a husband, Princess Smartypants devises a diabolical series of tasks for those who apply for the job.  And even when Prince Swashbuckle shows up and is determined to complete them all, the princess has a magical trick up her sleeve that will keep her single forever.

The Barefoot Book of Princesses retold by Caitlin Matthews

If your little princess thinks that all princesses have blond hair and blue eyes, this lovely collection of read aloud tales is a perfect antidote. I love the story collections published by Barefoot Books (someday I will do a post on all they have to offer) which include tales from all over the world. Bringing together old and new stories from Denmark, Siberia, China and Persia, these princesses all have their own tasks and challenges to accomplish in their different ways. The stories are accompanied by lovely illustrations and a CD with audio versions of each one.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer

Olivia, the little pig whose color scheme is red, black and white, finds herself surrounded by pink in this latest adventure. She complains to her mother that “All the girls want to be princesses” and “Why is it always a pink princess? Why not an Indian princess or a princess from Thailand…there are alternatives.” When her mother points out that last year Olivia had wanted to be the fairy princess ballerina in the school dance recital, she is met with the retort “That was when I was little. I’m trying to develop a more stark, modern style.” Of course, Olivia’s real problem is not so much the idea of being a princess, but rather that “If everyone’s a princess, then princesses aren’t special anymore!” She doesn’t have to worry. With ambitions ranging from being a nurse to a reporter (who exposes ‘corporate malfeasance’ no less) it is certain that Olivia will never be the same as anyone else.

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