Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls Book Poster Image
Adventures are gripping, a little gruesome.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence

In "Atalanta," six knights are killed and the prince kills two more. In "Nana Miriam," 120 dogs are killed. In "Fitcher's Bird," young girls are killed and cut up and left in a bathtub. In "The Girl and the Puma," cannibalism is mentioned. In "Fitcher's

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some of these gripping adventures are a little gruesome.

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What's the story?

Brave and smart girls fool monsters, rescue men and other women, and defeat their enemies in battle. This important collection of true and legendary folktales from around the world demonstrates that girls don't always need a prince to rescue them. Although violence is included in these folktales, it is never gratuitous.

 

Is it any good?

The tales in this collection turn stereotypes on their heads with heroes that are brave, smart, and female. They are wonderful to read aloud to older children. Their origins are diverse, including ancient Greece, Niger, Japan, Argentina, and the United States. It's an important collection not only because of the way it showcases strong girls in action but also because it introduces the history and culture of many places.

The violence, which may be a detraction for some, is appropriate within the folktale genre, and dramatizes the strength and bravery of the heroines. The black-and-white illustrations are few but detailed. Each story has at least one, which will draw in younger, squirmy listeners.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the heroines. How do they compare with the women at the center of more traditional fairy tales?

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