I’ve never been a fan of the term “girl power.” Despite its ’90s riot grrrl origins—the “grrr stood for growling,” according to feminist scholar Anita Harris—girl power has become less an expression of feminine empowerment than a form of prepackaged consumerism masquerading as dumbed-down ideology. Get over the patronizing attitude, however, and My First Book of Girl Power is a pretty decent Who’s Who of DC Comics’ female pantheon for the board-book set. Just don’t expect a whole lot of depth—or diversity.
Set against the rolling hills of pseudo-medieval France, Giants Beware! is the story of Claudette, a pint-size rapscallion who wears her hair short and her temper shorter. The daughter of the village blacksmith, Claudette has a singular ambition: to snuff out the neighborhood baby-feet-eating giant and destroy it. There are a few kinks in the would-be giant slayer’s plans, however. Her father, who was maimed fighting a dragon, makes light of her quest, considering it a child’s idle fancy. She also has to rally a pair of reluctant squires—an aspiring princess named Marie and her timorous younger brother, Gaston—to her cause, which she succeeds through some light chicanery.
Watching Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time, my 6-year-old daughter immediately glommed onto the character of Princess Leia. This wasn’t surprising in the least—I did pretty much the same when I was her age. But with the exception of a Golden Book, published in 1997 and now heinously out of print, children’s books featuring the Alderaan royal are few and far between. While Star Wars: Escape From Darth Vader doesn’t mend the gap per se, it’s one of the rare stories to cast Leia as the central human protagonist. Part of Disney Publishing’s “World of Reading” series, the book retells the opening scenes of Episode IV, just before Leia is captured by “mean and scary” Darth Vader’s forces.