My 5-year-old daughter lives and breathes all things princesses. She uses her blanket as a cape, she makes a paper crown with jewels almost every day, and she is constantly asking me if I can be her servant. If she only knew I already was…
The hard part about all this is that I’m a feminist. It breaks my heart every time I read a fairy tale and the princess longs to be saved by the cocky, arrogant prince. I hate seeing her waiting around a castle or sleeping until she gets kissed.
So I was thrilled when I saw a book called Whatever After: Fairest Of All by Sarah Mlynowski at the bookstore. My daughter loved the young, sassy girl on the cover and I loved the premise of the book: A brother and a sister find a magical mirror in their basement that takes them into a fairy tale. Not a Disney fairy tale – the real fairy tales – ones from Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm. The best part is that they mess up the story and the lead female character has to learn how to stand on her own.
The feminist in me adored it, and the mother in me loved how my daughter would long to cuddle in close as we read together. After getting the book, every morning she would wake up and want to read. Not turn on the television or play on the iPad, but read. And when the book was finished, we both felt a certain sadness. That is until I found out that it was part of a series! A series that appeals to not only young readers being read to, but also independent readers who love to get lost in a book.
One of the best things about it is the lead characters are one boy, one girl. Perfect when reading to two siblings of different sex, which is exactly what happened when I would read to my daughter. My son started to join us and was soon listening and loving every word.
Now I don’t mind those capes she wears and jewels she puts on her crown. Especially because after reading these books, she makes her brother hide in the castle tower so she can rescue him.
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