‘What if Beauty stood up to the Beast, the Princess never tried to sleep on the pea .. and the Swan Maiden took revenge on the hunter who kidnapped her?‘ (From the Back Cover.)
Professor Caddy got her paws on this beautifully illustrated retelling of fairy tales. On the cover, a young woman, head held high and wearing sturdy boots, looks ready to protect herself (spear) and to find her own way about (map). A glance at the back cover suggests she is less concerned about the dragon than the dragon might be about her. Not a tiara or movement-restricting dress in sight. ‘I must bring this along to our Tedettes Jane Austen Bookclub’, said Caddy. ‘All these princesses look so different and bold’.
Our Samantha loved the first tale, ‘The Princess and The Pea’. This is the kind of princess Sam wants to be! She dashed off to put on her ‘exploring bag’, inspired to go adventuring herself right away.
Meanwhile, wise old Hilda-Bear is reading and re-reading ‘Cinderella.’ ‘Marvellous’, mutters Hilda, ‘ just marvellous. Of course, why should we bears of ‘a certain age’ miss out when it comes to fairy tales. Marvellous, just marvellous’.
Tedette Lizbeth is very conscious of her lovely fur. She went straight to the tale of ‘Snow White’ which features the magic talking mirror. Well, it was not quite how she remembered it. “Mirror, mirror on the wall’, asks the Queen, ‘who is the fairest of them all?’ Lizbeth was delighted at how this story turns out. She will never look at mirrors the same way again.
The nine tales retold here include familiar favourites such as ‘Beauty and The Beast’, ‘The Frog Prince’ and ‘The ‘Swan Maiden’, but now you see them with new eyes. After reading these, I think we will all want to see more! Oh, and there are ‘morals’ in these tales for princes too, for instance, that wearing glasses and loving books is perfectly fine, and that waiting about on a lily pad in some murky pond hoping a princess will come to you is perhaps not the best way to go forth in life.
‘The charm, whimsy and magic of traditional fairytales remain, but the diverse characters challenge stereotypes about who they should be or how the y should act, stand up for themselves, and shape their own futures. ‘(From Back Cover).
The Adventurous Princess is written and also illustrated by Erin-Claire Barrow. The full-page colour drawings are respectful of the original tales but visually turn us to appreciate them differently. Erin hopes such stories ‘inspire young people, and young women in particular, to see themselves as the strong, clever and adventurous heroes of their own stories.’ (Foreword.) You can see more of Erin’s work at her website, for instance her collection called ‘Dangerous creatures from Celtic folklore.’
The Adventurous Princess and other feminist fairly tales is published by Publisher Obscura, an imprint of Odyssey Books . You can also find it on Book Depository, on Amazon (currently FREE on Kindle unlimited, although with illustrations of this quality you will want to hold the real thing in your hands), and on Barnes and Noble.
Mark, your host here at Baffled Bear Books, is also guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is the writer-bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In and She Ran Away From Love.