Princess Pink isn’t a princess, nor is she a fan of the color pink. In defiance of her frothy moniker, Princess prefers “dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, and cheesy pizza” over fairies, ballerinas, and the princess dresses her mother attempts to foist upon her. Unsurprisingly, the magical world Princess stumbles upon through her refrigerator door one night isn’t a Narnia, an Oz, or even a sideways Wonderland. Instead, the Land of Fake-Believe is a shared fairy-tale universe gone amok, with an oddball cast of subverted characters such as the green-haired Moldylocks (of Three Beards fame—”much scarier than bears”), The Three Pugs, a kleptomaniac fowl named Little Red Quacking Hood, and, perhaps oddest of all, the Tunacorn, a kind of unicorn with a tuna fish for a horn.
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.
Still think that Wonder Woman’s Greek myth origins are “too complicated” for the silver screen, movie execs? I Can Read: I Am Wonder Woman gets down to the brass tacks, explaining Diana’s story so cogently even a five-year-old could follow. (Mine certainly did.)
The early reader covers the basics: Paradise Island, princess, Amazons, Gods-given powers. But it also throws in the magic truth-inducing magic lasso, Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, her civilian identity, and even her friendship with Superman and Batman—all in fewer than 32 pages, most comprising pithy sentences.
Animal Princess would rather muck about in the sewers fighting slime monsters than wear another frilly princess dress. In fact, she frequently does, ditching the usual royal trappings for animal-themed pajamas that grant her the abilities of the creatures she emulates.
With her trusty feline steed, Buttercup, at her side, Animal Princess dispatches nefarious thee-head wizards, frosting-spewing sentient cupcakes, and spectral dust bunnies alike with moxie and an almost fiendish aplomb. You won’t find any shoehorned moral lessons here; The Radically Awesome Adventures of the Animal Princess is pure bombastic mischief.