Saturday, October 27, 2007

Princess Pigsty


I just love Cornelia Funke's picture book, Princess Pigsty. Here is a princess that I can actually like for once! The story is of a royal family, of course, a household with lots of princesses. Isabella, our heroine, is the youngest of the bunch. Her older sisters are Druscilla and Rosalinda. The first few pages explain royal behavior. How the sisters are waited on hand and foot. How they have every luxury they could ever want or imagine. How perfect there life is. How they should be the happiest girls in the kingdom. But. (There's always a but in picture books like this...) But Isabella is not happy. No, not happy at all. One day she decides to do something about it. "I am tired of being a princess. . .I want to get dirty!. . . I don't want to smile all the time. . .I don't want to have my hair curled EVER again." And the list goes on and on throughout the text. She wants to have fun, get dirty, wear pants instead of dresses, actually interact with the world and learn to do things herself. When her father essentially asks what has come over her...what led her to throw her crown in the fishpond, she responds "Princesses don't do anything fun. Princesses don't even pick their noes. Princesses just stand around looking pretty. Yuck. I don't want to be a princess anymore!" Thinking that he can teach his daughter a lesson, he sends her off first to the kitchen and then finally the pigsty. The twist? He's the one that learns the lesson. Sometimes you've got to let kids be themselves. You can't always mold them into the exact image you want. (Some girls don't want to be girly-girls. They don't want to wear dresses with bows and laces. They might not want to wear pink tutus and take ballet and/or piano lessons.) The book ends with her compromising a little bit saying that she might wear a dress and crown occasionally, but that some lines aren't meant to be crossed. "Isabella never let anybody curl her hair EVER again!"

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