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Princess Bess Gets Dressed | Princess Penelope | Princess Hyacinth | Sweet Peas & Stilettos
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More Princess Books

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And yet more Princesses . . . .by Susan Fry

I always envy friends who get to glam out at princess parties while I’m stuck – yet again – in an androgynous Jedi outfit, dodging light sabers. So I decided to use the British Royal family as an excuse to hold a princess party of my very own. On the night of Kate and William’s wedding, my friends and I will don our widest, most flowery hats and sip champagne while watching the TIVOed nuptials.

For those of you lucky enough to have a princess of your own – of either gender – these books should get you in the right frame of mind for the festivities.

Princess Bess Gets Dressed, by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Heather Maione. Frilly cartoons and clever rhymes make the most of Princess Bess’ extensive wardrobe as she changes outfits throughout her busy day. Dress-up fans will covet Bess’ tutu for ballet class, her velveteen gown for a snack with the queen, and her sequined shawl for a ball. But to Bess, dressing up is her duty. “What I really want to wear is a secret I can’t share,” she says. Only at bedtime can she finally revel in her favorite clothes – her underwear!

Princess Penelope, by Todd Mack, illustrated by Julia Gran. “Penelope was a princess. She was absolutely certain.” After all, Penelope gets a princess crown from her grandmother and a kiss from the King and Queen. But some of the reasons behind her “royalty” soon look suspiciously familiar. A “Princess” gets her own room while the King and Queen have to share. A “Princess” has lots of thrones, including a potty. And, of course, she has “servants” clean up after her. Both grownups and kids will get a laugh out of the ways that an ordinary girl is just like a princess. The lively drawings are an original blend of thick, black curlicued outlines and delicate watercolor.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated), by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith. Princess Hyacinth has a problem – she floats! So the King and Queen weigh her down with a crown, golden weights, and diamond pebbles. But the poor Princess just wants to play with other children. One day, she rebels and nearly floats away into the sky. Only a little boy’s kite string – and his friendship – can save her. The book can be read as a metaphor for royalty or love, or just for the sheer whimsy of the idea. Princess Hyacinth seems to draw heavily from one of my favorite books, The Light Princess, by George MacDonald, which is for older children and contains some darker elements.

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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