This was going to be an official “Top Ten” list but without going too deeply into the abundant fairy tale realm (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc…) I found myself stretching to fill out the last three titles. Furthermore, some of these titles are simply worth mentioning for reasons other than the fact that they are the “best in their class.” So I’m calling it simply “stories not to miss”. You can read about some more of the fairy tale princesses however, in my Top Ten Disney Alternatives post.
In the meantime though, our testosterone heavy home is still drinking at the oasis of Newborn-Baby-Girl and all the delights that brings. There are a gazillion crummy princess books out there. (Generally a good indicator of crumminess is if there is a trademark symbol somewhere on the cover.) There are plenty of okay, non-commercialized princess stories too—some traditional and some a bit more contemporary/unconventional. But in the search for perfectly satisfying, girly books, here are some not to miss!
The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven. There is no better, dreamy, whimsical artist for little girls than Elisa Kleven. I have a post coming up soon on some of her newer titles… but this is one of her classics. It’s a very sweet story of a girl’s creation coming to life, getting lost and found again. Be sure to check out The Paper Princess Finds Her Way and The Paper Princess Flies Again: With Her Dog! also.
Many Moons by James Thurber. The classic story of a sick little girl who simply wants the moon in the sky and outwits all the experts to figure out how to get it. Many reviewers comment on the weird, watery illustrations… and I agree that they are perfect for this tale.
The Princess in the Forest by Sibylle Von Olfers. My very favorite princess book for the five and under crowd. This one doesn’t take us through extravagant legends or rich plots. It is very simply a day in the life of a princess. Gorgeous, botanically rich drawings… very simple text… yet high on the whimsy factor. A must have.
Princess Aasta by Stina Langlo Ordal. This book is part of the reason I can’t make this an official Top Ten post. See, this isn’t one of the best princess stories ever written. Not at all. But there is something satisfyingly quirky and strange about this tale. A girl advertises for a bear to be her friend. The chosen bear and she go on adventures to the North Pole. It’s quite strange and the art is different. But I find these novelties rather refreshing in a genre where the traditions and proper roles are usually quite predictable.
Princess and Fairy by Anna Pignataro. Another book here that will never be a hall-of-fame candidate. But this book probably has the highest satisfaction factor for little girls out of all of them which is why I included it on this list. It is bright, colorful, bubbly and it rhymes. Most of all… there is a page with sparkles! My daughter adores poring over this book finding items on the very detailed pages. It is absolutely the girliest of girly books.
The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray. I am happy to have a Jane Ray title in this list; she is an extraordinary artist. And here is a lovely tale of a sweet princess who restores the beauty and grandeur of her kingdom.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer and K.Y. Craft. This Grimm fairy tale has always been my very favorite… always. And this gorgeously illustrated version is does it justice. The pictures and tale are lavishly done. There is another beautiful one by Ruth Sanderson with its own flavor and style all its own. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Great collection! Have you seen George MacDonald's The Light Princess?
Sybllle von Olfers is so lovely. I grew up with her books in Germany and now my children are reading them.