Book Recommendations at the End. Just Like Always!
The Disney Princess cult snuck up on me. One day I was a happy Children's Librarian, sorting out the Magic Treehouse books from the Magic Schoolbus books, when it happened.
"Where are your princess books?" she asked.
I've adjusted. I don't think my eyes bug out when I get asked "unusual" questions any more.
"Princess books?" I repeated, thinking to myself that there could be a series called The Princess Books. There already is, God Forbid, an unending series of "Fairy" books for little girls.
"My little girl likes Disney Princesses, so where are your Princess books?" she clarified for me.
I started thinking. "Disney Princesses??? WTF?" as I led the really nice mom over to our picture books and started pulling out books under the Ds. I talked her into several picture books: Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy and Olivia.
It would not always be that EASY.
Sometimes it was the little girls themselves. Sometimes it was a Dad, but usually it was a mom.
I had missed the early stages of the spread, but by 2009, my eyes were open to the plague sweeping the nation.
There were "Disney Princess" videos and Disney Princess songs and Disney Princess costumes. Walt's Minions threw Snow White and the Little Mermaid in with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Belle. In other words, these characters didn't really have to be princesses. Just as long as they could sell costumes, videos, trinkling shoes and assorted room decorations, it functions for Disney's
dream profit plan.
I talked about fairy tales. I talked about Nancy Drew. I pushed the Babysitter's Club. It doesn't work. Pink Tiaras or nothin.
I am hoping that Disney Princesses dies out, but have little hope. We'll have princesses until these little girls have little sisters who get princess hand-me-downs and rebel against it.
Why is the Princess thing so awful, you may ask?
Princesses are born into their place. It's not about being smart or hard-working or talented or even lucky. It's entitlement, pure and simple.
All this Disney consumer overload implies that not only is every little girl supposed to be Daddy's Adored Little Princess, but that somebody had better be buying all the tiaras, gowns, jewelry, and scepters that will ensure that she never for one single solitary minute Doubts It.
It's 2010, folks! Not that this kind of thinking was helpful in 1910, either!
At a time when little girls can aspire to drive the first landing vehicle on Mars, cure AIDS, or clone a mastodon---Princess Pink is breaking out everywhere. Just in time to turn back the clock.
The air-headed princess movement to joined at the hip with the morphing of G. I. Joe action figures into ruthless and/or superhuman killing machines.
Chinese toy factories painted toys for US families with lead-based paint. Their owners were severely punished. There will be no equivalent punishment for those who daily poison the minds of our children.
Please! Skip the Princess Books.
Read some great Girls Series instead:
I promise to update this post periodically.
1. Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park. Wildly popular. I think that she is a decent first step into reading series, but Frog and Toad and Little Bear can kick her **s.
2. Ruby Lu, Brave and True written by Lenore Look and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Ruby Lu is a very good contemporary series with an Asian-American heroine.
3. Clementine written by Sarah Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee. I am still waiting for my copies, but librarians all over the place are really impressed by Clementine and the first three books in this series.
4. Franny K. Stein. Written with a "mad science" theme, Jim Packer's cartoonish series is pulling in the readers.
5. Just Grace written by Cherise Mericle Harper is a well-reviewed new series.
6. Goony Bird Greene by Lois Lowry is the start of a wonderful series about a little girl who tells stories--that somehow turn out to be technically true.
7. Roxie and the Hooligans, written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, is a rare stand-alone by one of the most prolific children's authors. Roxie is besieged by bullies at school, but when she is shipwrecked, she is a hero.
8. Babymouse. If Franny K. Stein is not the girl version of Captain Underpants, then possibly it is Babymouse written by Jennifer Holm and illustrated by Matt Holm. Babymouse is for girls aged 8 and above-- a terrific graphic novels series. If graphic novels are your thing, you can find Nancy Drew in graphic novel form now.
9. Ivy and Bean is a newer series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall -- is based on two friends who have completely different characters but are bonded together.
10. Judy Moody by Megan McDonald is a very popular new series. I recommend these books all the time.
11. Clarice Bean written and illustrated by Lauren Child. Child is the originator of the Charlie and Lola picture book series that inspired the tv series. Clarice is the chapter book series that continues her gentle, but genuine humor.
12. 17 Things I am Not Allowed to Do Anymore iswritten by Jennifer Offil and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. I don't know if you want to share it with your little girl, but this picture book is inspiring to the lovers of domestic mayhem.
These modern girls came from a literary tradition that is studded with gems.
Pippi Longstocking was among the original wild girls. Astrid Lindgren is long gone, but Pippi is still generating new books and finding new illustrators.
Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson) used to be a book--and each generation of illutstrators took a turn with her--a challenging book, but worth reading to a little girl.
Dorothy Gale, the protagonist of The Wizard of Oz and its sequels, is brave, honest, and usually cheerful. L. Frank Baum loved writing about brave little American girls.
Sidney Taylor's All of a Kind Family begins a realistic series about an orthodox Jewish family of girls in turn of the century New York. Very decent juvenile historical series and holds up well.
Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary is the gold standard of a real-girl contemporary series character.
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh is one of the classic eccentric little girls in juvenile literature. It is included here because there was a sequel--The Long Secret, which has been out-of-print most of the time.
There is no way to include all the current girl series. Add any you admire in the comments!