Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Girl Power

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke illustrations by Kerstin Meyer

Princess Violetta was the youngest of King Wilfred's four children and, the only girl. Her mother, the queen, had died in childbirth and the king decided to raise Violetta as he was his three sons, to train to be a knight. This did not come easy for Violette and her brothers were always teasing her about how small she was, or how slowed she moved. Rather than give up Violetta started to practice fighting, riding, and other knightly skills in the middle of the night. As she grew up her brothers stopped teasing her as she got better and better. When Violetta turn sixteen the king announced that there would be a tournament and, the knight that won would get to marry her. Violetta was furious but the king would not listen to her protests. On the day of the tournament a knight dressed in black beat every other competitor, even the king's sons. The knight revealed herself to Violetta. She declared that she would never marry unless a knight could defeat her. After that she left for a year to explore the world. When she returned the king welcomed her home and let her marry whomever she wanted.

I was thinking a lot of about this book and whether or not I liked it. In the end, I do like it. I like the message of hard work and determination to achieve your goals and of not letting people bully you around for no reason. I also like that this message is specifically directed at young girls. I think we need more books where little girls are able to see a strong female character that works hard and achieves just as much (if not more) than the men in the story. I have nothing against girls who want to be feminine and girly (I have quite the soft spot myself for frilly dresses) but I do want them to know that even being a girly girl you can still go out and achieve anything. The illustrations in this book are not my favorite. There are some interesting little details tucked away on some of the pages but overall I found them to be too simple. They do help convey the story and are not bad they just don't "float my boat." I did like the way the text is laid out in and around the illustrations though, it gives the reader a sense of being in the middle of the story that was a lot of fun. I think this makes a great read aloud for girls 3-6.

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