Thursday, May 26, 2016

Unconventional Princess Books

In spite of my best efforts to carefully balance trucks and tiaras, my daughter hit a very intense princess phase right around the time she turned two. One year later, we are still very serious about dresses and princesses.

As a parent, I certainly allow my children to pick out the books they want both from the library and the bookstore. But I also try to subvert expectations a bit; if my son keeps reading books about boys, I will slip in a book featuring girls or add a nonfiction book about nature or a biography to a stack of picture books. When it comes to my favorite little princess, I am happy to read to her about princesses every day. But I am on the lookout for princesses who don't quite fit in the traditional box. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups
In this story, the princesses grow tired of their lives and decide to try someone else's for a while. Snow White hangs out in Rupunzel's tower, Rapunzel goes to the ball in Cinderella's stead, Cinderella gets some sleep instead of Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty goes to live with the dwarves for a while. Each one discovers that there are pluses and minuses to each kind of life. My favorite part is the real-world application, though; each princess figures out what will make her life a bit happier and takes steps to make it happen. Sleeping Beauty switches from spinning to knitting to save her fingers, Cinderella goes to college, and Snow White gives the dwarves a chore list (hey, they all live there!).

2. The Princess in Black 
To the casual observer, Princess Magnolia is the perfect young royal. Her castle is beautiful, her dresses are pink, and she serves delicious hot chocolate to guests. But the princess has a secret: she is also the Princess in Black! Garbed in a black cape, she defeats any monsters who want to get into her kingdom. Of course, fighting monsters is not something that young princesses should be doing so Magnolia must hide her secret identity from everyone. This book (and the two that come after it) are laugh-out-loud funny and the perfect chance for mom and dad to perfect their voices, as you get to narrate for Magnolia, the suspicious Duchess Wigtower, and the young goat herder who is surprised when his flock almost becomes an appetizer!

     Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups  The Princess in Black (The Princess in Black, #1)

3. Not All Princesses Dress In Pink
This picture book features princesses going about their normal kids lives, as they go to their soccer games, build a fort together, and play pretend. My daughter, at least, gets very caught up with the idea that all princesses need to wear frilly dresses all the time. So it's nice to remind her that a princess is still a princess when she's wearing cleats or muddy rain boots or overalls.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink

4. Princess Pigsty
Princess Isabella thinks being a princess is a bum deal. She is never allowed to get dirty, the dresses and crown are uncomfortable, and she would like for once to do something for herself! One morning, she rebels and declares that she will not wear her crown. Her father tries to teach her a lesson by sending her first to work in the kitchen and later, to work in the pigsty. But Isabella discovers that she loves both of those things. Can Isabella convince the king to allow a dirty, happy princess to be herself?
(Also check out The Princess Knight by the same author

 Princess Pigsty

Do you have a favorite nontraditional princess story?


  1. I do not have a favorite nontraditional princess story, but I am here to tell you not to fret. My daughter was all into princesses from the age of two until she was about six or seven. Now, at age eleven, she would rather read dystopian fiction and dress all in black. In fact, she now hates dresses and the color pink. Katniss and Hermione are her new heroines, and that is fine by me. So hang in there and be thankful it is just a phase!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Michelle! I guess I don't mind the princess phase per say, but I want to make sure she doesn't get into the habit of thinking that princesses (or girls) should only behave in one specific way.

  2. My favorite unconventional princess is Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess. She rocks. :)

    1. I've heard about that one, but somehow we've never picked it up. I know what to pick up during our next library trip! :)

  3. I liked Tea Rex, with two little kids inviting a dinosaur over for tea. I'm not sure if the kids are royalty, although they certainly live in a nice house. It's by Molly Idle.

    And my boys loved the old classic, The Paperbag Princess, by Robert Munsch, and our library had a video of it with catchy songs which was also a hit.

  4. Oh, and I remember when my niece went through a princess stage, and learning her family's catch phrase "Princesses walk it off." They are hard core athletes, so there was a lot of soccer playing in pink dresses for a while.