My 5-year-old daughter Molly is obsessed with pink. Her walls are pink. She gets upset (VERY UPSET) if the day's outfit does not contain pink, and it's better for all concerned if it contains a LOT of pink. She is a living Pinkalicious. I know she will grow out of this; someday she will be a goth-y, moody teenager who will want to paint her bedroom black, and I will look back on these pink days wistfully. And to tell the truth, I don't mind it. She likes pink. What am I going to do? Give her an extended lecture on gender politics?
We do like variety in our books, though, and I prefer that the pink books have something girl-powery about them. I'm not saying that we don't read some Disney Princess books. But we have to alternate those with better books, if only for the sanity of the three adults in the house. So these books are all
currently parent and Molly approved.
1. TALLULAH'S TUTU by Marilyn Singer: Tallulah believes that at the end of her first ballet lesson, she will receive a tutu. All ballerinas have tutus! When she learns that it takes a lot of hard work to earn your tutu, she refuses to continue lessons. But when the world conspires to put ballet everywhere she looks, Tallulah realizes that it's more a part of her than she knew. My ballerina was nuts about this one from the moment I first opened the cover.
2. THE PRINCESS KNIGHT by Cornelia Funke: The king lets his daughter, Violet, learn swordplay and horseback riding with her older brothers - but when she turns sixteen, he decides to hold a tournament. To choose her husband. Violet decides to take matters into her own hands by disguising herself as a boy and entering the tournament herself. I have been loving and recommending this book for years.
3. I HAD A FAVORITE DRESS by Boni Ashburn: I am crazy about this sweet, slightly melancholic story. When a young girl outgrows her favorite dress, her mother turns it into a shirt. When that grows too small, it becomes a tank top...and then a skirt...socks...and finally a hair bow. Molly hasn't done this yet with a favorite piece of clothing, but I'm sure she will before too
4. THE QUEEN OF FRANCE by Tim Wadham: I had the pleasure of hosting the launch party for this book back in March, and I'm just as happy to recommend it today as I was then. Rose wakes up feeling royal, and soon enough, the Queen of France imperiously presents herself to Rose's mother. However, when Rose comes to find the Queen of France a little later, the Queen has disappeared. When the Queen comes back and proposes that she switch places with Rose, the parents talk about how much they would miss Rose. The ending sets up a sequel (I hope) quite nicely. We have read this time and again and I never get tired of it.
5. THE PRINCESSES HAVE A BALL by Teresa Bateman: No one has ever heard of this awesome multicultural retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The king wonders where his daughters disappear to every night, and how they are constantly wearing out their dancing slippers. When the cobbler follows them, he learns that they are...playing basketball! They convince their father to let them throw their own ball, and play a lively game for the court.
6. MISS LINA'S BALLERINAS (and sequel!) by Grace Maccarone: This one's super fun to read aloud, because Miss Lina's perfect eight ballerinas are named Christina, Edwina, Sabrina, Justina, Katrina, Bettina, Marina, and Nina. But one day Regina shows up and throws off the balance, and they have to figure out how to adjust their steps.
7. PRINCESSES ARE NOT QUITTERS by Kate Lum: This is another one that seemed to fly totally under the radar. Three totally bored princesses decide that their servants are having more fun outside, doing things - so they decide to switch places for the day. They quickly find out that the work is hard and exhausting, but stick to it. In the morning, they take pride in what they did (eating the bread they baked, etc) and make up some new rules for the palace meant to lighten the workers' loads and ensure that everyone has some peaceful time to play.
8. BETTY BUNNY LOVES CHOCOLATE CAKE by Michael Kaplan: After Betty Bunny tastes chocolate cake for the first time, she decides that she is going to marry it - and that she doesn't want to eat anything else. When she throws a tantrum over the cake, her mother decides to teach her a lesson in patience. This bunny IS my daughter, and I suspect some of yours as well, and you will find much that is familiar in these pages. Betty's siblings are also kind of hilarious.
9. BELINDA THE BALLERINA (and sequels) by Amy Young: There are four books about Belinda, and we love them all to pieces. Belinda has gigantic feet, and despite being an incredibly talented dancer, is basically laughed out of an audition. She gives up dancing forever and takes a job in a restaurant. But her love of dance won't disappear, and one night, the Maestro of the Grand Metropolitan Ballet is eating in the restaurant and sees her dance. Belinda's dream quickly comes true. Subsequent stories find her in Paris and then dancing the part of Cinderella, and one of our favorites takes us back to Belinda as a little girl.
10. THE SECRET KEEPER by Kate Coombs: Yet another book that cause people to look at me blankly. This one feels like an old fairy tale, but isn't. Kalli is the Secret Keeper of the village of Maldinga, and the villagers come to her and leave her with their most dreadful secrets. She locks them away in tiny drawers in her cottage. The secrets become too much for her to bear and she becomes ill. The villagers decide then to share happier secrets with her as well - including Taln, the potter's son, who has the happiest secret of all. This is a book I actually hug every time I take it down from the shelf, I love it so much.
11. THE DUCHESS OF WHIMSY by Randall de Seve: This is the utterly charming tale of the Duchess of Whimsy, who is fancy and wild and fabulous, and her totally ordinary husband, the Earl of Norm, who is not. The Duchess throws a dinner party, and when the chef becomes sick, her friends go nuts making the most extremely crazily elaborate food possible. The Earl's just hungry, though, and wanders off to make himself a grilled cheese. What happens when the Duchess follows?
12. WHILE MAMA HAD A QUICK LITTLE CHAT by Amy Reichert: This one's a bit of a wry lesson for those of us who love our smartphones. It's Rose's bedtime, but Uncle Fred calls, and Mama just needs to have a quick little chat. But the doorbell rings, and when Rose opens it, she finds men with party supplies. She tries to get Mama, but Mama just needs a minute! The doorbell keeps ringing and ringing and soon enough there's a huge party going on, and Rose's Mama just won't get off the phone. What is Rose to do? This book introduced me to the art of Alexandra Boiger, who also illustrated Tallulah's Tutu!
I have to stop here or I will never stop. If I've forgotten your favorite, it's entirely possible I've forgotten one of mine - post what you think I've overlooked and I'll do a catchup post in the weeks to come!