Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power, by Vita Murrow
Hoo boy. I don’t even know where to start.
Unless my copy is missing a big neon THIS BOOK IS SATIRE sticker, as far as I can tell, Power to the Princess was written in earnest, and is meant for a children’s audience.
The thing is, though, it mostly reads like a send-up of every progressive ideal that there is—and I say that as someone who believes—and believes earnestly, even—in those ideals.
But this book is didactic, didactic, didactic. Most of the stories end along these lines:
Belle the Brave:
From that day forward, armed with a badge, her bravery, and generous spirit, Belle worked tirelessly at the Fairyland Protection Office of Restorative Justice to protect the community from curses. She reached out to misunderstood magical creatures and helped build bridges between all the corners of the kingdom.
When Prens and Ella eventually married, they moved to a new kingdom where a leader such as Ella was so needed. There, she became prime minister and worked tirelessly to raise the minimum wage so that all members of the kingdom could prosper. Her constituents too called her Cinderella, to honor her first business. It was the start of a life in leadership, service, and seeking justice for all.
When Mai left the residency, she became a prominent musical producer, helping magical creatures foster their gifts and preserve the integrity of their work. In later life, she retrained as a lawyer specializing in contracts and advocacy. She fought tirelessly for even the smallest creature, ensuring they too could follow their heart.
Anddd I just noticed that all three of those excerpts contain the word ‘tirelessly’.
The stories are told in language steeped in the jargon of social justice, and ultimately, the stories don’t read like stories, they read like lesson plans. On top of that, sometimes you get passages like this one from Princess and the Pea, that read more like they’re geared towards folks in their 20s??:
Dating was much like a playdate—you went on outings with lots of new people to learn about them and to try new things. Sometimes you made a great new friend, sometimes there was great romance, and sometimes there were just awkward periods of silence. The last kind, the awkward kind, were the sort of dates Prince Omar specialized in. They were dreadful.
Like. WHO IS THAT FOR?
Again, I have no qualms with the messaging. And I appreciated the diversity of characters within the text and within the illustrations. But when the message overpowers the story—even a message that is in line with my own values—it doesn’t make for an enjoyable read.