Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Reviews: Princess Stories

We hear the same ol' princess stories over and over again.  How about something new?  Here is a list of princess stories with a twist that we have enjoyed at our house.

Cinder Edna
by: Ellen Jackson

This clever, double story follows the fates of two young women. Readers know Cinderella, who works all day, sits in the cinders, and needs her fairy godmother to get the ball moving. But Cinder Edna next door has used her spare time to learn 16 different ways to make tuna casserole and to play the accordion. She earns money by cleaning out parrot cages and mowing lawns, and can she tell jokes. When the dance is announced, she dons the dress she bought on layaway, takes the bus to the ball, and wears loafers for dancing. She wins the attention of Prince Randolph's younger but dorky brother, Rupert, who loves to dance and tell jokes, and runs the palace recycling plant. Both women dash off at the stroke of midnight. The two princes' plans for finding the owners of the lost glass slipper and the beat-up loafer are a hilarious contrast. Ella ends up, of course, with the vain, boorish Randolph. Edna moves into a solar-heated cottage, caring for orphaned kittens and playing duets with her husband Rupert. O'Malley's full-page, full-color illustrations are exuberant and funny. Ella is suitably bubble-headed and self-absorbed while Edna is plain, practical, and bound to enjoy life. Kids will love this version of the familiar story for its humor and vibrant artwork.

Fanny's Dream
by: Caralyn Buehner

An ungainly farm girl named Fanny Agnes has a bit of the Cinderella in her, and on the night of the mayor's ball goes out to the garden to wait for her fairy godmother. Instead, Heber Jensen comes a-courtin' and although Fanny dithers and declares she won't do windows, she shucks her princely dreams to throw in her lot with humble Heber. It's a hard life, but she gets treated like a princess in ways she never imagined.

The Paper Bag Princess
by: Robert Munsch

Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and presumably unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince. Once she's tracked down the rascally reptile, she flatters him into performing all sorts of dragonly stunts that eventually exhaust him, allowing her to rescue Prince Ronald. But what does Prince Not-So-Charming say when he sees her? "You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess." In any case, let's just say that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Ronald do not, under any circumstances, live happily ever after.

The Paper Princess
by: Elisa Kleven

A little girl draws a brave and friendly looking princess on a piece of paper and then cuts her out. But before the child can decide what kind of hair to give her new friend, the wind sweeps down and carries the paper princess away. Flying over the city, searching for the perfect hair and her way back home, the princess learns a lot about life and the ways of the world. With her shoes "like watermelons" and her dress "like a forest," the paper princess is both childlike and princesslike (indeed, she is friendly and brave). Kleven's collage artwork is as spectacular as it was in Abuela (1991): it celebrates family, diversity, and individuality. This magical world, in which blue jays have feathers of Florentine paper and princesses have sweaters to wear when they go flying, is full of the spirit of creativity and the importance of play in defining one's home.
Also by Elisa Kleven, The Paper Princess Finds Her Way and The Paper Princess Flies Again.

What is your favorite princess story?


  1. We've been reading and loving Cinder Edna at our house too - such a fun story!

  2. Thanks for the tips! We love reading in our house!

  3. I love Cinder Edna and have read the other two, but the Paper Princess is new to me. Thank you! I also love the Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin, Cinder Ellen: A wild western Cinderella by Susan Lowell, and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.

  4. This is a great list! I've never heard of Princess Edna before, but adding it to my list of books to read. We did read the last 2 on your list, but Anna didn't care at all for Munsch story.

  5. We have Fanny's Dream, it is a good one.

  6. Some favorites in our house:

    Cinderella Penguin or The Little Glass Flipper

    Dinorella: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale

    Waking Beauty

  7. Lately it has been Julie Andrew's "The Very Fairy Princess." In fact, it even prompted a theme weekend around here.

    I'll have to check out your recommendations.