A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows the life and leisure of princesses and what's involved in holding a contest.
Princesses Are Not Just Pretty offers positive messages about kindness, helping others, valuing character over looks, and what it means to be a good friend.
Positive Role Models
Characters appear simplistic at first but are revealed to have greater depth of character than originally thought.
There's minor bickering over who's prettiest of all. Though no insulting language is used, the princesses focus on praising their own physical attributes by out-bragging one another.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know That Princesses Are Not Just Pretty -- the third in the Princesses Are Not... series -- subverts the typical tropes about princesses as beautiful creatures who don't do much, and offers an unexpected twist. However, it still shows them arguing at length over who is the fairest of them all, and has a resolution that feels slight. The message here is ultimately positive, but for toddlers or preschoolers, it could inadvertently reinforce what it aims to counter. May be best for veteran princess devotees in need of a good lesson in an appealing package.
Is It Any Good?
PRINCESSES ARE NOT JUST PRETTY has a few things going for it. The watercolor illustrations are gorgeous, creating a frilly, pastel, Marie Antoinette color palate of delicate richness. And the story, which stresses the importance of character, action, and kindness among princesses inclined toward arguments about vanity, is a nice twist. The issue is that for very young kids, or those merely tiptoeing on the fringe of princess culture, the first half of the book -- with its appealing frivolity and who's-prettier banter -- has a way of inadvertently reinforcing what it sets out to contrast. Plus, the message that being pretty isn't all that matters, feels slight in comparison to the very thing that makes being a princess fun in the first place -- sitting around eating cupcakes in grand dresses and elaborately coiffed manes.
Parents looking to distract from princess culture altogether may have better luck with more surefooted entries in the Adventurous Princesses category. But those who are happy to find an artful book that appeals to the fanatic, while stressing positive lessons about doing good for others -- emphasis on doing something at all -- will be delighted.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.