Cybils nominations are still open! And there are lots of good books, and books that look good, that haven’t yet been nominated! Our fearless leader, Charlotte, has put together several lists of unnominated books in the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative category if you are in need of nominating inspiration…
I’m always game for stories of unconventional princesses. This is one my kids and I enjoyed.
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Arthur Levine Books (Scholastic), 2015.
Princess Pinecone is born to a family of warriors in a culture of warriors. Her mother looks like Xena and her father is a Viking dude with hipser glasses – but her they just won’t see Pinecone as a warrior. What she wants more than anything else for her birthday is a real warhorse. What she gets is a a pile of adorable sweaters and a chubby, cute little pony which farts too much. Still, when the big warrior field day come up, Pinecone is determined to participate, chubby pony and all. The battlefield is crowded with warriors of many eras and ethnicities, fighting each other with “dodgeballs and spitballs and hairballs and squareballs (those were new).” And what Princess Pinecone learns is that brawn and speed are not the only way to win a battle – she has a secret weapon she never even knew about.
I said I love stories about unconventional princesses (and girls in general.) Pinecone wants to be a warrior, and while she wears a dress, it’s short and blue and lacking in frills. Her blond hair is a realistic length, practically rather than decoratively braided, and she is lacking the ubiquitous extra-long eyelashes. But for all that, she is undeniably cute, and she does not win the day by being better at manly things than the men, like Violetta in Cornelia Funke’s Princess Knight (though I love that book, too.) The art is digital, but looks like ink and gouache or watercolor, very much in the cartoon style that Beaton is famous for. The lines are energetic even though most of the characters are cutely rounded. The language is delightful, too, with lines full of alliteration and vocabulary like this: “Pinecone was flabbergasted, flummoxed, floored!” All of this works together to make a story that’s both fun and funny, with a nice twist on the “be true to yourself” message.