Princess Grace

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Princess Grace Book Poster Image
Princesses shine more than their tiaras in refreshing tale.

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

Educational Value

This book teaches about a variety of historical princesses that are beyond damsels in distress, including princesses from other cultures and countries outside of typical European fairy tales. Additionally, the book also underscores that many traditional European fairy tales have adaptations and similarities to folk tales from other countries all around the world.

Positive Messages

The book has a fantastic message - princesses can be more than empty personalities waiting on a rescue and marriage proposal from a handsome prince. The princesses featured are shown to be warriors, leaders, scientists and more. It even discusses the celebration of one gender over the other. The children in the book are encouraged to research their heritage and culture. The book also shows positive representations of a variety of different types of families.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are positive roles models throughout the book, including the main character. We watch her evolution from everything pink and airy to princesses with purpose. The adults around the title character also serve as good role models by providing assistance to the children without making up their minds for them. They allow children to explore their own thoughts and ask probing questions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Princes Grace is a great book to distract kids from the bubble gum princess obsession. Instead of frothy, light female characters, the book mentions real-life princesses who exhibited worth that extended beyond their crowns -- as soldiers, scientists, and more. Parents should be prepared to research historical and modern role models. This book is part of a popular series of books about Grace

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What's the story?

Grace loves everything about princesses. The poofy pink dresses, tiaras, and sparkles. She just knows she's perfect for a spot on the school float where one queen and two princesses will dazzle the crowd. Before she's selected, Grace must learn what a true princess does, and the answer's surprising. Soon, the question becomes, what kind of princess does Grace want to be?

Is it any good?

PRINCESS GRACE by Mary Hoffman is a delightful and refreshing look at the world of princesses minus the overwhelming amount of pink and sparkles often exhibited in such narratives. When the title character, Grace, is confronted with a simple question -- What do princesses do? -- she discovers a world of royalty that she had never dreamed of, with helpful parents and teachers as guides. 

Hoffman, with the help of talented illustrators Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, takes readers on a journey to discover that princesses are leaders, soldiers, scientists, artists, and more, while helping to highlight princesses that exist outside the European standard. Additionally, Hoffman highlights the cross cultural adaptations of classic fairy tales, all in a successful effort to include a wider cultural experience. Kids and parents will both love this book, and it's a good book to start conversations on gender norms, media role models, and societal expectations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why it's important to have positive role models in the media. What does Grace learn about herself when she starts learning about real princesses?

  • Families can also discuss gender norms. Do you think the boys have a good point when they ask to be included in the parade? Do you sometimes see people left out of things because it's a "girl thing" or "boy thing?" How does that make you feel?

  • Have you ever heard of the real-life princesses described in the book? How and where would you do research to learn more about real princesses and the lives they lead beyond wearing crowns?

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For kids who love picture books and strong female characters

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