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Not Your Disney Princesses

I fought mightily to keep the dreaded
Disney princesses from invading our homes, and they still made it
in. It’s really impossible to keep them out –
they’re on toothbrushes and valentines and pencils and even
macaroni and cheese. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I have two problems with Ariel and her friends. First off, I am
peeved about the whole licensed character thing. I can’t
stand how ubiquitous their faces are, and how my daughters
automatically beg me to buy gum/toilet paper/cheetos just because
they have Belle and Aurora on them.

But my biggest issue is the type of role model these gals are
being. Maddie and Cora hear the stories too often –
“Someday my prince will come” is a too-often refrain,
and the heroine can do nothing but clean the house after seven
messy guys/wander through the woods picking berries, hidden away
from all other people/prepare her mean sisters’ breakfasts
and daydream about being rescued. Yes, this is a problem for

So I’ve spent the past few years
diligently seeking out different princesses with which to bombard
my daughter’s listening ears, and I’ve found a few good
ones. We all love a great fairy tale, after all – but
isn’t it nice to hear about a princess who can rescue
herself? Here’s my short list:

The Paper Bag Princess
by Robert Munsch. I adore
this book, about a princess whose castle is besieged by a dragon
and burnt to the ground, leaving her with nothing but a paper bag
to wear. She sets off to rescue her prince, does so using her wits,
and in the end decides the guy’s a drip and goes off on her
own, happy and contented. This book rocks.

The Princess Knight
by Cornelia Funke. A princess
is raised by her widower father and pack of brothers –
calling her a tomboy would be putting it mildly. When her father
announces a jousting tournament with the trophy being her hand in
marriage, she enters the competition herself, wins the thing, and
goes off by herself for a while. Her father embraces her, and she
eventually marries the gardener’s son. This girl needs no

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Selfless Sisters

by Kathleen Ragan and Jane Yolan. A collection of folk tales from
around the world assembled by moms looking for positive female role
models in cultural stories, this book features moms who rescue
their kids, sisters who best giants, and women throughout who show
courage and brains. A great collection for any family of girls.
Take that, Brothers Grimm.

The Goose Girl
by Shannan Hale. Heck, pretty much
any of her books – href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FPrincess-Academy-Shannon-Hale%2Fdp%2F1599900734%2F&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325">
Princess Academy
is probably my second favorite.
In The Goose Girl, a princess is promised away in a
political marriage, then attacked so an imposter can take her
place. She disguises herself as the king’s goose girl in the
new kingdom until she can confront the imposter and win back her
life. And in the process, she figures out who she really is and
what she wants. A very well-written young adult book. As a side
note, The Goose Girl is too scary for Maddie right now
– the princess’ beloved horse is killed and its head
mounted on a stake as a warning – but I’m about to
start Princess Academy with her. Great chapter books, very
well written, very empowering.

So there’s my short list – are there any on yours?
Please save me from having to read how Ariel gives up her family,
her life, heck, even part of her body to marry a guy she’s
met ONCE.



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