Brave (Disney) and Five Other Girl Power Princesses

by Adrienne Veglia Mazeau on June 18, 2012

in Enrichment Ideas

One day my dreams will come, someday I’ll find my love….. and blah, blah, blah. You know the iconic songs of the earlier Disney Princess movies of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White where the sole purpose in the young princess’s life is to be beautiful and find her prince. The prince is the only way to solve all of life’s challenges. Yes, the Bean,  my almost five year old has too fallen victim to the princess insanity. I said it would never happen and even took her to the voting booths in 2008 wearing a “President not Princess” t-shirt. Nope – Disney’s calling was too great.

But alas, a new Disney Pixar movie is coming out on June 22nd that has the potential to be the girl power princess movie we’ve been waiting for. Brave is about a headstrong Scottish princess named Merida who is a skilled archer and challenges the path her life is supposed to take. The movie requires Merida to use her OWN skills and resources to save her kingdom. Imagine that – a girl saving the day.

latest disney princess

As the Bean’s love of Sleeping Beauty only continues to grow I’ve tried my hardest to encourage literature that, while still princess focused, shows a young girl that she can become more than a trophy wife. Below are a few favorite children’s books in my house, but we are always looking for new suggestions so please comment on your own family’s picks.

5 Girl Power Princesses

Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen

Sleeping UglyThis humorous tale puts a spin on the classic Sleeping Beauty. The story is about a beautiful but mean spirited, spoiled rotten princess named Miseralla, a simple orphan named Plain Jane, a fairy godmother in disguise and a poor yet endearing prince named Jojo who happens to be the youngest son of a youngest son. The tale involves wishes, a hundred year slumber and of course kisses, but teaches children to look beyond outward beauty and that character is more important. In the end, as you guessed Jane and the Prince live happily ever after. The adult reader will get a few good chuckles from this sweet tale.

The Cornelia Funke collection

I love Cornelia Funke’s girl power books and recommend three must-have books for every little girl’s library.

The Princess Pigsty

Princess PigstyWhat happens when a princess is bored being a princess, doesn’t want to be waited on or dress up in frilly clothes? She throws a tantrum and tosses her royal crown into the fishpond. Her father, the king, tries to teach her a lesson by making her work in the kitchens and sleep with the pigs. And guess what – she loves it! Her father decides that he is ok with his little princess being a little dirty as long as she is happy.  This story is about letting little girls test their own need for adventure and to not worry about the mud on their petticoats.

The Princess Knight

The Princess KnightPrincess Violet’s father raises her in the same manner he raised his sons – to be brave, strong knights. However, he plans a jousting tournament to decide who will win the proud Violet’s hand in marriage. Princess Violet decides to show the kingdom what she’s made of and disguises herself as a boy and eventually wins the tournament to her father’s astonishment.  Again, my daughter has become hung up on what boys can play with and what girls can play with. This book goes against the traditional gender stereotypes and sends the message that girls can achieve anything a boy can, but like all people, it takes hard work to be the best. A double message in this wonderfully illustrated book.

Pirate Girl

Pirate GirlOk – not a princess tale but we read this book while visiting El Morro Fort in Puerto Rico and it really added to the experience. Young Molly is sailing out at sea on the way to her grandmother’s when she runs across the malicious lot of pirates on the Horrible Haddock led by Captain Firebeard. Molly is headstrong and warns the crew not to mess with her as her mother will be very angry. Of course, the pirates mock young Molly until they spy on the horizon the ship of the feared Barbacious Bertha who, as you likely guessed, is Molly’s mom. Bertha’s all female crew take over and the Firebeard’s crew end up serving the fine ladies of Bertha’s crew. I love that Molly is assertive and quick thinking and saves herself in the end.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

The Paper Bag PrincessThis was the first girl power princess book my daughter received and is still a fun read. Princess Elizabeth wears fancy clothes and is engaged to marry Prince Ronald. That is until a dragon destroys the castle, burns all of her beautiful clothes and kidnaps Prince Ronald. The princess has nothing to wear but a paper bag but decides to find the dragon and get her prince back. Princess Elizabeth outwits the dragon until he’s too tired to even lift his head and she storms the castle to save Prince Ronald. However, upon looking at the rather disheveled princess, Ronald tells Elizabeth to come back when she is dressed like a real princess. Gasp! The cool Princess gallops into the sunset, alone after she tells Ronald that he’s a real bum, and they don’t get married after all.

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| Adrienne lives outside of Albany, NY with her archaeologist husband, creative school age daughter and a very active toddler. When not dreaming about where to take her family next she works as a Fiscal Policy Analyst for New York State. Combining an insatiable appetite for breaking out of routine and discovering new destinations with her family while working full time keeps the balancing act interesting. Writing as become her creative outlet. Email:, Twitter: @AdrienneVMazeau

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