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Review of Princess Smartypants by Janice Harayda: “Suppose that you – oh, enlightened parent – want to read your daughter an antidote to all those princess books that encourage her to wait passively for Prince Right. Suppose that you wanted to give her a book that says it’s actually fine to be single.”
You could pick up Babette Cole’s Princess Smartypants, a revisionist fairy tale that has been making children – and their parents — smile for two decades. Princess Smartypants is a motorcycle-riding royal who wants to control her own destiny. Or at least her own ring finger. So when her parents order her to find a husband, she devises tests for hapless suitors like Prince Compost and Prince Vertigo. Only Prince Swashbuckle passes, and she turns him into a toad “so she lived happily ever after.”
Princess Smartypants is definitely not beautiful in the usual princess-y way. She has big red nose, ping pong ball eyes and flyaway hair. So the subtext of this line is: You’re pretty if you think you are. It tells girls that there are many kinds of beauty, and the kind shown in most princess tales is only one of them.
Babette Cole is an award-winning English author and illustrator who has written many other popular books for children.
She mainly writes children’s comedy books, usually rude but still supposed to be funny and not taken offensively. Babette currently spends her time writing, visiting schools and travelling.