SILVER SPRING, Md, January 12, 2013 – Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Joe Berger ISBN: 9780152065997
“Viola Louise Hassenfeffer was not an ordinary princess.” She is an active, adventurous girl, who does karate, dives into the moat from the castle tower, and skateboards up the drawbridge.
The king and queen tell her she is supposed to be prim and proper, but while Viola wants to fit in, she thinks she will never get being a princess right. She is lousy at the royal stuff, and the king and queen are not pleased.
Everything changes when Viola gets a letter from Madame Gertrude at Camp Princess inviting Viola to polish her princess skills. Eager to become a proper princess, Viola heads off to camp. Once there, Viola tries to learn the royal wave, good posture, the ”frills of fashion” and how to dance the waltz, but each lesson ends with her reverting to her wild ways. She turns the royal wave into a karate chop. She dives into the moat because her taffeta gown is too hot. Finally, Viola uses her skateboard to dazzle the dance class.
At the end of camp, Viola feels like a failure. The “Royal Bash” (think prep school dance) is just beginning when a big green dragon sneaks in and attacks all the princesses at the camp. While Madame Gertrude yells for someone to call “knight-1-1,” Viola jumps into action. She uses her karate chop, her diving and her skateboard to defeat the dragon.
The other princesses cheer and ask Viola to teach them too. In the end, Viola returns to her kingdom, still wild, but now adored.
Gone are the days when princesses can only be the helpless victims who need Prince Charming to rescue them. In the modern world where Disney princesses carry bows and stand up for themselves, this book is a worthy heir to the precedent of the heroic storybook princess set by The Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch.
This is a great story for parents of both tom-boys and the tiara-wearing princess obsessed. It does not glorify the aspect of being a princess, but rather emphasizes being independent and capable, so it is good for parents who may be concerned about the image of women that their little princess may be developing. Princess Viola becomes a hero defeating a dragon similar to Princess Elizabeth in Munsch’s picture book. It also appeals to parents of the rough and tumble girls who like to play with their older brothers. The lessons taught here are that little girls do not have to be prim, proper or perfect to be loved, and that girls can be independent and can accomplish the same things that boys can.
The art work features bright colors, with lots of yellows, pinks, blues and reds. The pictures are whimsical and attention grabbing. Certain panels have a comic book feel to the way actions are blocked off, but the style suits the story.
Designed for an older audience (publisher recommends ages 4-8), the message is sure to hit home.
Sauer has authored ten other books as well. Published in October 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Princess in Training is only available in hardcover.
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