Before I had a daughter, I was 100% anti-princess. But becoming mom to a sparkly, frilly, twirly pink princess tends to change one’s mind. And, well, the truth is, I love singing along to Disney movies, too!
That’s not to say I love the message of those movies. Not at all. When it comes to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella (my kiddo’s personal favorite), I tend to fast-forward through some parts and make up my own words for others. The Little Mermaid has a dreadful message, so as catchy as its songs are [and they are catchy!], I’m always on the lookout for stories about strong, smart princesses to balance out our collection.
Over the past couple of years we’ve found a lot of great princess books that feature smart girls doing kind and brave and otherwise amazing things. (Many thanks to Tara for pointing us in the direction of many of them!) The best part is that a lot of these books are part of a series, so you’ve actually getting way more than 17 books for your little girl!
Here are some princess books we love:
Books About Smart & Spunky Princesses
- The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
- Princess Pig by Eileen Spinelli
- Princess Picky by Marjorie Priceman
- Princess Fidgety Feet by Pat Posner
- Princesses Are Not Quitters! by Kate Lum
- Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke
- Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen & Heidi E. Y. Stemple
- Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
- Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
- I Want to Do It Myself! [A Little Princess Story] by Tony Ross
- Gigi, God’s Little Princess by Sheila Walsh
And because I wouldn’t want to swing too far the other way on the princess spectrum, I do have a few more great books that don’t feature princesses but just regular girls (or pigs or bears or . . .). I could’ve left them out and kept my focus on princesses. But these are some of our very favorites.
More Books about Strong (& Sweet) Girls
- Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis & David Soman
- Dream Big Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi
- Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
- The Jellybeans & the Big Dance by Laura Joffe Numeroff
- Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen by Lisa Campbell Ernst
Now, I don’t want to leave you thinking that while I’m coming to terms with princesses, I’m becoming anti-Disney-princess. I’m not! Belle is my absolute favorite, what with her books and sassy refusal of Gaston’s advances (never mind her falling in love with a beast, just never mind that). And Rapunzel in Tangled is great, too.
Today, though, is the opening day for Disney’s latest princess movie, and for the first time ever, it features a princess who is most definitely NOT looking for her prince and is the strong-willed star of her own show!
I got the chance to view a screening of Brave earlier this week – in 3D, no less! My parents and Annalyn went with me, and we all agreed that it is a great movie. However, it is not a great movie for a four-year-old. Unfortunately, Annalyn was scared during almost the entire movie. While it’s beautifully made, the movie is also visually dark with majorly intense scenes throughout that terrified my kiddo.
Brave would be a great movie for parents and older kids to watch together. The story follows a young girl who defies her mother and does not, under any circumstances, want to be like her mother. Of course, because it’s a movie, the princess and her mom end up having to work together and eventually understand each other’s point of view. They work through it in a fairly realistic way, though, and I think it could prompt some great conversations.
A few more details about the movie (details, not spoilers!): First, seeing it in 3D was AWESOME. The artistry, creativity and technology involved in that blows my mind. Second, if you’re worried about the mystical elements of the story, I thought they were subtle and no more offensive than fairy godmothers or super long hair with magical healing abilities.
Next, if you’re hoping for lots of fun, catchy music, you won’t find it here. But you will find a lovely instrumental soundtrack (one that I’m hoping to download soon). Finally, every character has a pretty thick Scottish accent. I didn’t have any trouble understanding them, of course, but I think Annalyn did and wonder if that added to her confusion and anxiety.
Here’s the bottom line about Brave: Disney’s latest princess movie is a funny and moving story about a courageous princess who stands up for herself and changes her fate (and, oh yeah, fights with her mom and eventually makes up with her). The animation is fantastic, and the music is beautiful. And most importantly, the story will encourage great conversations between parents and kids.
How do you feel about princesses? Will you go see Brave? What’s your favorite princess story?
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We have been saving a movie gift card we got at Christmas just to see Brave. But now I’m worried about taking my 4 yo girl. She knows we’re seeing it though and wants to go. And since she’s seen most of the movies the bigger kids watch anyway I guess we’ll take our chances. Thanks for the review though–I’ll make sure she is sitting with me.
Nicole, for a more thorough review, check out Amanda’s post, too. http://impressyourkids.org/brave-movie-review-pixar-mom/ I agree with all of her points other than the magic (which just didn’t bother me, but maybe that’s partly because it was completely over my 4yo’s head).
Thanks for all the princess book recs! I am anxious to get my hands on the Princess Knight. (And also her book Pirate Girl).
I totally want to see Brave with Mr. V, but I don’t think Libbie is quite ready from the reviews! (Although I admit I’ve let her watch Enchanted at home, which is scary and has a witch. At the end she asked, “Where was the scary part?”)
I actually didn’t like Pirate Girl, but I do love Princess Knight!
I have seen the previews and would love to see this movie. I just need a kid to take. My teenage son refuses to go with. You would think after ALL the action films I have taken him to he would indulge me but that’s not what the teenage stage is all about. I guess I’ll wait for On Demand.
Yeah, I can see a teen boy not wanting to go see Brave. But he would probably get a kick out of the supporting characters (all men, of course). I hope you find someone to go with you!
Hi Mary, I have 4 kids, the youngest 3 are girls. They are all older now, with the youngest at 15 yo. I embraced the pink look, and put dresses on my girls (with shorts beneath) as long as I could. And I encouraged them to wear them while playing in the mud, playing football, or whatever. And we enjoyed princess movies and all things pink (except Pocahontas, which I wouldn’t let the girl’s see until they studied the real Pocahontas, because I feel Disney’s version is horrible) But despite my being a cheerleader all through school, I wouldn’t let my kids be cheerleaders. As fun as the activity is, I didn’t want them to have anything to do with it. Did I sometimes regret it? Yes, as I wistfully watch the HS cheerleaders at our football games. But my girls get what I got out cheering from their lacrosse, field hockey, and musical production groups. And I always said that if there was a cheerleading team who cheered for the girl’s sports in our district, I would allow them to cheer. :) So, yes, that princess thing is tricky. Enjoy your little princess!!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Lori! My mom wouldn’t let me try out for cheerleading, either. Not that I would have made it, but it actually didn’t take me too many years to realize how wise she was to help me (okay, force me!) make the right decision.
My daughter is 22 years old and loves, loves the Disney princesses. We will be going to see Brave soon, together. It will be fun!
I hope you both love it!
We went to see Brave when my sister and her family where in town. We had seven kids ranging from 7 – 17, and then three adults (my sis, our Mom, and me). Nobody seemed to get too frightened other than my 7 year old daughter. She sat next to me and a few times wanted me to have my hand on her.
I’m a huge Disney fan, but none of us were impressed with the movie. It’s the kind of movie that I would have rather waited for DVD and rented it. When my Mom asked what I thought when we walked about, I said, “Well, it was certainly no Tangled.” LOL