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Parents' Guide to

Princesses Are Not Just Pretty

By Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Character counts more than looks is the light lesson here.

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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.

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