Princesses Wear Pants

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Princesses Wear Pants Book Poster Image
Spunky tale of active princess dressed to get the job done.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Active activities girls might participate in or aspire to. Fairy tale words (e.g., "moat").

Positive Messages

Girls can enjoy wearing dresses, but also like pants. Pants are more suitable for a whole host of active endeavors. Princesses can save the day.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Princess Penelope likes dresses and pants both. "Crowns and gowns have their place, no doubt. But that's not all this girl was about." She wears pants "'cause I've got things to do." She does yoga, tends the garden, flies a plane, and hosts the science fair. She also saves the day -- and the cat.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Princesses Wear Pants is by NBC Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie along with friend Allison Oppenheim, a clinical psychologist. Both are moms of girls, and commiserated when their daughters became obsessed with all things princess-y. The story is simple and told in rhyme. Princess Penelope Pineapple likes to wear pants as well as princess dresses, and because she's dressed for action, is able to rescue the castle cat. The book can serve as an antidote to a girl's single-minded princess preoccupation, though the rhyme is choppy and twists the tongue. 

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What's the story?

Princess Penelope Pineapple, the main character in PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS, loves to wear princess dresses, but also has a collection of pants "'cause I've got things to do." Pants suit her better for yoga, working in the garden, doing high-flying tricks as "a pilot in the Pineapple Air Command," and hosting the Pineapple Science Fair. But when Penelope shows up at the Pineapple Ball in pants, disapproving tongues wag, so she dons a dress. Good thing she layered her swimming trunks underneath! When the castle cat plunges accidentally into the pool, Penelope's able to dive right in and save her.

Is it any good?

Moms who've despaired when their daughters dive deep into pink princess mode might appreciate this celebrity-written book extolling the virtues of cultivating a wardrobe of pants. Princesses Wear Pants is by Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie and her psychologist pal Allison Oppenheim. It uses rhyming verse, but the rhythms of the sentences are bumpy, and the rhyme can seem forced, with awkward constructions. For instance, Princess Penelope is described as having "brown eyes, pink cheeks, and pigtails of fame." And when she dives in to save the royal cat, the text reads, "The crowd thought for sure in her gown she'd be sunk."

Illustrator Eva Byrne specializes in fashion illustration as well as children's books, so even when Princess Penelope wears pants, she's fashion-forward. When Penelope hosts the Pineapple Science Fair, "Her lab coat and corduroys did just the trick." And the flight suit she wears as a pilot is sequined. The book itself has a pink palette, and the cover is sparkly, delivering the message: "I love to dress up, just as pretty as can be ... But underneath it all, I still have to be ME!"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various events and activities in Princesses Wear Pants. Which do you think are good for pants, and which for dresses? When do you prefer to wear pants?

  • Are you interested in princesses and ball gowns? Why? Are you a fan of fairy tales? What do you like about them?

  • What other books do you know in which the princess is active and saves the day? Or books that have a girl as the hero?

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