‘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). The back cover suggests she is less concerned about the dragon than the dragon might be about her. There is not a tiara or movement-restricting dress in sight. ‘I must bring this to our Tedettes Jane Austen Bookclub’, said Caddy. ‘These princesses look so different and bold’.
Tedette Samantha loved the first tale, ‘The Princess and The Pea’. This is the exactly kind of princess Sam wants to be! She dashed off to put on her ‘exploring bag’, inspired to go adventuring herself right away.
Wise old Hilda-Bear read ‘Cinderella.’ ‘Marvellous’, muttered Hilda, ‘ Marvellous. Why should we bears of ‘a certain age’ miss out when it comes to fairy tales. Marvellous, just marvellous’.
Tedette Lizbeth is always 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 or her fur the same way again.
The nine tales retold here include ‘Beauty and The Beast’, ‘The Frog Prince’ and ‘The ‘Swan Maiden’, but now you see them with new eyes. I think we will all want to see more tales in this light! 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 a 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 both written and illustrated by Erin-Claire Barrow. Her 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. Take a look, for instance, at her collection called ‘Dangerous creatures from Celtic folklore.’
The Adventurous Princess and Other Feminist Fairy Tales is published by Publisher Obscura, an imprint of Odyssey Books . You can also find it on Book Depository. On Amazon it is currently FREE on Kindle unlimited, although with illustrations of this quality you will want to hold the real thing in your hands. See also 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.