A Modern Princess


How to Become a (Modern) Princess by Susan Fry

I’m not proud to admit that my favorite toy as a little girl was Princess Barbie. Even though I wore grubby jeans and loved tackle football, there was something just so irresistible about that doll’s scratchy, pink ball gown and shiny, fake little crown.

But while my childhood friends and I avidly watched Diana marry her Prince Charming, we also saw the fallout afterwards. We learned that there was more to being a princess than wearing jewels and a dress with a long, long train.

Now, a whole new generation is gearing up for another royal wedding. So it’s the perfect time to check out A Genuine and Moste Authentic Guide: Princess: A Glittering Guide for Young Ladies, written by Stella Gurney, designed by Janie Louise Hunt, and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, Fran Evans, Georgina McBain, and Gretel Parker.

Princess primers filled with frilly clothes abound. But this one offers both sparkle and substance.

The sparkle will grab readers from the first page. The lovely, stylish illustrations mix fairy-tale with Art Deco flapper. And they’re covered in glitter that doesn’t come off on your hands. As girls learn etiquette and style tips, there are envelopes to examine, flaps to flip, and mirrors to peek into. There’s even a wardrobe that opens so you – I mean, your child – can flick through tops and bottoms to create different outfits. No wonder it took so many people to design this book!

The substance comes from the advice of “narrator” Madame Sparklington, who has just retired as the head of an exclusive finishing school. She does address glamorous dilemmas, such as how to flirt with a fan or climb out of a carriage. But her section on “Finding your Inner Princess” refreshingly corrects attitude, not clothes. She mixes old-fashioned rules, such as “Think of Others” and “Never Gossip” with more modern decrees, such as “Be Assertive.” Many of her tips apply to the day-to-day lives of all aspiring princesses, such as not overdoing makeup and eating plenty of vegetables.

And as for finding that prince? “Far too busy having fun to be bothered with Prince Charming?” Madame Sparkington asks. “Excellent! Enjoying yourself is the whole point.”

Though, personally, I’m still dying to know what Kate will wear.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications. You will find links to all of her children’s book reviews on our Toys & Books page.

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