Traditional fairy tales tend to portray the female protagonists as helpless damsels who wait to be rescued by their designated princes (see: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, etc.), and while there’s nothing wrong with the romantic idea of happily ever after, which does work out just fine for some people, the danger comes when girls — and worse, boys — grow up subscribing to the narrow confines of these gender stereotypes. Which brings us to the importance of kids being exposed to alternative fairy tales, with characters who are unafraid of breaking the mould.
Princess Smartypants, for one, is fiercely independent and determined to live her life on her own terms — and woe betide the hapless princes who dare to stand in her way!
On the other hand, Elizabeth (aka The Paper Bag Princess) wanted to marry Prince Ronald and live happily ever after — until a dragon came along and carried him off to its cave; of course, it really did her a huge favour since, in the process of rescuing Ronald — clad in nothing but a paper bag! — the smart and brave lass discovers that she’s better off without a prince who turns out to be an ungrateful jerk.
Part-time Princess is the perfect book for little girls who like to imagine themselves as princesses, since the little girl in the story turns into one every night when the clock strikes 12 (like a reverse Cinderella). The twist, of course, is that while she enjoys all the sweet and girly things that princesses are associated with, she doesn’t just flounce around in her sparkly, frilly gear, but is not afraid of getting dirty or jumping into action when her kingdom needs saving!
Princess Sue in The Worst Princess is a savvy cross between Princess Smartypants and the Paper Bag Princess, in that she was, like Rapunzel, dutifully growing her hair and waiting in a boring castle tower for a prince to free her and sweep her away to a more exciting life; of course, when said prince turns out to be a chauvinistic pig who doesn’t appreciate her daring streak nor dragon-taming skills, and wants to trap her in another kind of prison, she decides to literally blaze her own path of adventure.
Every kid needs to read at least one of these books — if not all.