The "Un-Princess" Book List

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I'll never forget when my then two-year-old burst out with the words "I want some handsome prince." WHAT??!@?#? From whence did this concept even arise, and at such an early age? Do you have a super girly girl despite your most fervent efforts to create a well balanced environment? Well I have the perfect library list for you.

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1. The Secret Lives of Princesses is a humorous, quirky, at times darker presentation of what it means to be a princess. Complete with elaborate maps and beautiful illustrations, this is a great entry point for the less "princessy" princess. By Philippe Lechermeier, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer.

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2. Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees? This yoga-practicing, soccer-playing, ice-skating big sister shows her little brother it's ok to fall and scrape your knees. You just get back up again. By Carmela LaVigna Coyle, illustrated by Mike Gordon. (part of a series of "princess" books)

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3. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink is an empowering story of girls and their myriad possibilities. By Jane Yolen, illustrated by her daughter Heidi Yolen Stemple.

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4. They don't have to be about princesses at all. In Grace for President, Grace resolves to become the United States' first female president. She begins with the school's mock election, and children get an introduction into the electoral system. By Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

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5. Rosie Revere, Engineer is another story of a different career path available to girls. Fans of Iggy Peck, Architect will recognize the brilliant execution here. A new favorite in our house, by Andrea Beatty. Illustrated by David Roberts.

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6. The Princess and the Pig is the story of a princess who by magical twist of fate switches places with the farmer's pig. Whose life do you think turns out better? By Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene.

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7. Lovabye Dragon is a poetic tale of friendship, told in rhythm and verse, and illustrated in oil paintings. This is a princess with a big heart. By Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Randy Cecil.

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8. The Paper Bag Princess is the story of a young girl whose castle and clothes are burned by fiery dragon breath. The dragon absconds with her fiance. Undaunted (and donning only a paper bag), princess Elizabeth sets off to rescue her prince. After a successful mission, the ungrateful wretch tells her to come back when she dresses and smells like a proper princess. Seeing how shallow is his affection, the two do not live happily ever after! By Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

Incidentally, my same now six-year-old daughter recently told her teacher that she wanted to be a damsel and why. Her teacher told her "damsels sound lazy. I would never want to be a damsel." My daughter took that in, and has repeated the tale several times. Not one to laze around, I don't believe she wants to be a damsel anymore.

(Image credits: Carrie McBride; The Secret Lives of Princesses; Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees; Not All Princesses Dress in Pink ; Grace for President; Rosie Revere, Engineer; The Princess and the Pig; Lovabye Dragon; The Paper Bag Princess)

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