First of all, I’d like to say Happy Hinamatsuri, which is Girls’ Day in Japan (and by extension, Hawaii). Every March 3rd, girls are honored and their health and happiness prayed for, and beautiful dolls are displayed to represent emperors and empresses- amazing collections of entire entourages in ceremonial dress. I wish I could show you a picture of the display for Girls’ Day in my son’s Montessori School- his Japanese language teacher created a large collage of the girls in class all dressed in beautiful kimonos. It’s a really cool tradition.
With this in mind, I thought today would be a great day to put out a Ten Favorites post, one that honors and celebrates girls. So here is a collection of stories about princesses, but not your average princesses. Oh, no. I did a post a while back on The Paper Bag Princess and it got a lot of comments with recommendations of other likeminded books, so I figured it’s a broadening and necessary niche.
Now my daughter loves princesses just as much as any nearly 3 year old. So does my son, for that matter. She loves to dress up in her fancy dress and her tiara, both pink, of course. She dances around and points her toes, and I think it’s great. I mean, dressing up is fun, princesses are fun. But at two, it hasn’t yet been beaten into her head that princesses are kind of helpless, waiting for their prince to come while dressed elegantly and exhibiting exquisite manners, just hoping he’s handsome and has a full head of hair. I’ll avoid introducing that concept as long as I possibly can. For Halloween this year, I found this awesome Wonder Woman costume at a consignment store and she *loved* it. It’s shiny, there’s a cape and boots, I mean, what’s NOT to adore about it? She excitedly climbed into it, wrist bands and all, and immediately pronounced “I’m a princess!” She was utterly convinced during the whole holiday season (because why just dress up in your Halloween costume once?) that she was dressed as a princess. And yup, I thought, the most kick-ass princess I’ve ever seen.
But back to the task at hand. This is a list of alternative princess books, books where the princess uses her wits and slays the dragon, where the princess doesn’t wear pink, and challenges the ideal beauty that we’re used to seeing, where historical princesses and varied cultures are explored, where free-spirited girls choose their own destinies. In short, they are books where our faithful heroine is strong and brave and intelligent and has her own unique identity.
- The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch
- The Princess Knight, by Cornelia Funke
- Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, Jane Yolen
- Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer
- The Princess and the Dragon, by Audrey Wood
- Princess Grace, by Mary Hoffman
- The Knight Who Took All Day, by James Mayhew
- Jane and the Dragon, by Martin Baynton
- The Apple-Pip Princess, by Jane Ray
- The Emperor and the Kite, by Jane Yolen
Do you have more untraditional princess books to add to the list?