My eldest daughter is not a tomboy. True enough she likes running around, getting wet and mucky, kicking a ball and poking at the ground with sticks, but there’s an inherent girliness in our Kitty that is every bit as much nature as it is nurture. And its current manifestation is her affection for all things pink, purple and princessey.
We’ve not really discouraged or promoted it (apart from a little strategic use of Disney princess stickers), just tried to allow her to make her own choices, within reason. If her dolly Cinderella helps her to feel safe cozy and relaxed as she falls asleep at night then I’ll overlook its aesthetic shortcomings. She likes to paint pictures that are almost entirely purple, to build castle towers taller than herself using every available piece of Duplo to house “Princess Ginger”, several zoo keepers, Ariel from the Little Mermaid and a station’s worth of firemen, and one of her current favourite toys is “my tea party”, a Cinderella themed pink, blue and white heart-shaped plastic tea service, all stored in a giant tea-pot. And with each and every one of these I love watching her creativity come to the fore, and hearing the little make believes that chatter along with her playing.
Perhaps surprisingly we don’t really have many pink and princessy books, but I think it’s a little hard to find a princess book that fits Kitty (and my) idea of what a princess should be. We’ve had a few pink sparkly creations out from the Library but after the first flush of glitter hypnosis they lie neglected at the bottom of the book bag. In fact, there’s just one. Read, re-read, requested and so loved by both girls that I had to glue the cover back on today. Again.
Let me introduce you to Princess Sue.
Smart, funny, and wonderfully ingenious, Sue is a terrible princess as far as the ‘look pretty, keep sweet’ model goes. She’s after adventures, not sitting in a tower all day twirling her hair waiting to be rescued, so with a strategic networking manoeuvre worthy of Machiavelli, and an all important cup of tea, she teams up with the dragon to put the world to rights.
This is a book written to be read aloud, the rhymes have beautiful cadence; there aren’t any verbal clunks where words have had to be shoehorned in to make sense, or popular pronunciation stretched to breaking point. It’s also responsible for the phrase “my perfect peach, my precious flower” entering the family lexicography, usually in reference to a certain small someone giving full reign to her mischievous side.
The illustrations have all the energy of the story, and gorgeous colours to match and I love the quirky details, like Sue’s converse trainers under her pretty princess frock.
It’s no surprise that it was shortlisted for the 2012 Roald Dahl Funny prize, a favourite hunting ground of mine for really good new children’s books.
The princess phase will probably run its course with Kitty just in time for Elma to take up the baton, but I rather hope Sue will be with us for a good while to come – although perhaps I should buy a back up copy.
We’re not the only bookworms around either; I can’t wait to see what Kelle at Maggie Stone and Lucy at Dear Beautiful have been reading this week – Kitty’s birthday wish list is getting longer every week!