Part-time Princess

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Part-time Princess Book Poster Image
Regular girl turns princess at night in delightful fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Takes some of the standard elements of a princess tale -- a castle, a prince, a ball, a dragon -- and changes them so the take-charge girl saves the kingdom. Kids can compare this update with classic princess tales. 

Positive Messages

Take charge and save others when they're in trouble. You don't have to punish someone who's behaving badly; if you talk to him, you might find he's crabby about something and acting out, and all he needs is "a little cheering up." Don't be frightened of trolls; they love to dance, so dance with them! 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The little girl is upbeat, confident, strong, brave, empathetic, and a creative problem-solver. When she meets a "very handsome prince," she says, "maybe I'll marry him when I grow up. But right now I'm too busy." Her mother is kind and, as the visiting queen in the magical kingdom, plays happily with the little girl, even in the Royal Mud Puddle.  

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Part-time Princess by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cambria Evans is a fun fantasy about a little girl who goes to sleep each night but then wakes at midnight to have a princess adventure in a magical kingdom. She's brave enough to take charge, put out fires, and tame a dragon but also enjoys frilly dresses and dancing at a ball. It's a fresh take on a princess tale, with a strong, confident, cheerful, and kind girl at its center. 

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What's the story?

After her mom tucks her in each night, and at the stroke of midnight, an ordinary girl wakes with a crown on her head and begins a magical adventure as a brave, hardworking princess, with her cute wiener dog along for the ride.

A pink carriage pulled by a unicorn whisks them away to a kingdom where the girl puts on a firefighter's hat and fights fires caused by a dragon. "A real princess can slide down a fire pole in a frilly skirt," she says as the narrator. "I save the kingdom, as usual," she adds. She lassos the dragon, but, instead of locking him up, she invites him to tea and discovers he just needs some cheering up. After more play with animals and a queen who looks a lot like her mom, a ball with "hairy trolls" (who love to dance), and a handsome prince, she heads back home to her own bed. At breakfast, she notices she and her mom both have sparkles in their hair. 

Is it any good?

PART-TIME PRINCESS is a wonderfully fresh take on a princess story. Here, there's more to the job than wearing pretty clothes and nabbing a royal husband. This princess uses her time each night in a magical kingdom to fight fires, tame dragons, and have fun. It's all done with a light touch and a very appealing protagonist.

There are echoes of the girl's real home in the fantasy world, highlighted in Cambira Evans' cheery illustrations (including a small dolphin toy at home that becomes a real dolphin in her princess bathtub). 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be a princess. What do real-life princesses do? What would you do if you were a princess? 

  • How is Part-time Princess different from other princess stories you've read or seen in movies or on TV? How is it similar? 

  • What kinds of adventures do you have in your dreams? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love princesses and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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