I admit it. I’ve always wanted to be a Princess.
No, not the Walt Disney kind, where I’m waiting around for Prince Charming to show up. I want to be the kind that can jump on a horse, slay a dragon by noon, and be back in the castle by 5:00 to be served a nice dinner. That’s a wonderful life.
How do we pick between the images of those princesses that wait around to be kissed and those that actually do something?
A Mighty Girl is here to help. This website has a list of over 200 books about “independant princesses.” They define them as “smart, daring, and aren’t waiting around to be rescued – more than likely, they’ll be doing the rescuing themselves!”
Several categories divide the books into the appropriate ages for kids, but there’s no category for grownups. Every now and then, though, I read a book geared towards Young Adults.
One of the authors who shows up twice on the list is Gail Carson Levine, who has written a number of stories about princesses for the Young Adult market. In an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Levine noted that she likes putting a spin on the same old fairy tale.
How did Levine tackle the Sleeping Beauty tale, which is a classic wait-for-the-handsome-prince story? In her book Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, Princess Sonora is 10 times smarter than anyone else. Everyone in the castle finds it tiresome. Princess Sonora tries to outwit her destiny of having her finger pricked by the spindle and falling into a deep sleep, but fate intervenes. Her mother screams, the princess runs to find out what’s the matter. She collides with her mother, who is holding the spindle. Fate takes over.
When the prince comes to find the sleeping castle to answer to why the sheep in his kingdom are balding, he is initially repulsed by the sleeping princess. (“What’s was that on the her cheek and in the corner of her mouth? Spit? Bird droppings? Ugh!”) But he hears her muttering wisdom in her sleep and decides to kiss her after all.
Undoubtedly Princess Sonora becomes wiser. That’s a good lesson for any princess, independant or not.
Image by Guy Ormiston (Guy Ormiston (SONY DSC-S600, 1/25, f2.8)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons