Can you be a princess and a good feminist? Does the big dress and tiara get in the way of getting things real, non-self-preening things done? I think so. Lots of little girls love dressing up as a princess or fairy and you wouldn’t them to stop – but perhaps just gently remind that princesses do stuff too. Indeed one of my favourite pictures of my daughter when she was around 3 years old was of her dressed up as a fairy princess with full tiara and tutu – plus gumboots as she rode purposefully in her toy car.

Modern princesses do stuff and know their own minds – and certainly don’t need rescuing by a prince. In fact, they just might be the ones doing the rescuing. I think that’s the message. And here are three of my favourite picture books that help re-style our and our daughters’ princess perceptions.

  • The Paper Bag Princess – Robert N Munsch and Michael Martchenko
    First published in 1981 and hard to find here but this is a classic re-imagining of how a princess should behave – and how a prince definitely shouldn’t!
  • The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas – Scholastic Australia
    The clever words of Tony Wilson and quirky illustrations of Sue de Gennaro have created a wonderful re-telling of the fairytale, The Princess and the Pea. What’s is a real princess? This story will show you.
  • Princess Smartypants -Babette Cole -Puffin
    A classic picture book from the wonderful Babette Cole. Princess Smartypants is a modern girl shunning potential princely suitors and following her heart. She doesn’t want to get married: ‘She enjoyed being a Ms’ but lots of chaps wanted her to be their Mrs. A fun, full-throttle feminist (and I mean that only ever in a good way) princess story. I don’t think she’s a smartypants though, just a princess who knows her mind.

The paper bag princess

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas

Princess Smartypants

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