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this week's library book

I'll confess that I have a little issue with princesses... which can be tough, when you have a four year old daughter. For the first few years of her life, I admit that I limited Bee's access to princesses and all things purple and sparkly (I had a specific aversion to Disney princesses). It's not the princess stories I have a problem with, I just don't like how Disney has taken ownership over these beautiful stories that have been around for so long.

And then I found some photos of myself as a little girl, about Bee's size, dressed in a bright pink princess costume for Halloween (which my mom reminded me I wore more than one year in a row). So I decided not to fight it any longer... if Bee wanted to love princesses and dress up in pink sequins, so be it.

But I did want to show her that there are different versions of these classic princess stories. We've started checking out more of these old stories from the library... Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. There are some beautifully illustrated versions at our library, and Bee loves to look through them. So this week's library book is Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Jan Brett.

Beauty's father picks a rose from the Beast's rosebush for his daughter, and is taken as his prisoner. Upon hearing the news, Beauty bravely takes her father's place as prisoner.

Over time Beauty starts to see the good in the Beast, she begins to look forward to their dinnertime conversations and she sees his kind and thoughtful deeds. He asks Beauty to marry him each night, and Beauty always replies "Pray don't ask me".

Beauty asks to take a trip to visit her home and see her sisters and her father again. While she is away, she has a dream that the Beast is dying and realizes that she loves him. Beauty rushes back to the castle just in time to save him... which breaks the spell and magically transfoms him back into a handsome prince.

Can I share one more little secret? I've figured out how to avoid the morning tears while combing the tangles out of Bee's hair. I used to dread combing Bee's hair in the morning, she would cry and whimper about every little tangle or snarl. Now I've turned that time into story time, and it has saved us so many tears. Bee will happily hand me her comb and remind me where we left off. I try to stretch each story out, so it takes a week or so to tell it and I don't limit myself to just princess stories. I've told my version of Red Riding Hood and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.. The Three Little Pigs and Charlotte's Web and anything else I can vaguely remember. I love that my son C is always peeking his head in so he can hear the story too.

I have great memories of my dad telling us stories when I was a kid. He would make them up when we went on long car rides, and they kept all six of us children entertained for hours at a time. Unfortunately I am not as good a storyteller as my father... but lucky for me, my daughter doesn't know any better.

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Reader Comments (33)

Cute chubby arms.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Goodness, I know how you feel. I read to my son all day long, but when it comes to telling stories of my own, they always seem to fall flat. Thankfully, now he's more likely to make up a story to tell me.

Beautiful illustrations, I love library books. I greatly admire your photography and writing.

I remember the same crying (me and my younger sisters) when my mother brushed our hair every morning. Then an old family friend suggested that she plaited our hair every night before we went to bed - no tangles in the morning! It made such a difference, i wondered if perhaps it would work for Bee.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I have had a similar aversion to the Disney Princesses - the only problem is that some of the original versions of the tales I can find are SUPER gruesome. Im glad you found one that isn't and Ill add it to our list. Thanks!

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I fought the whole princess obsession as well. Now, we have a huge trunk of princess dresses in our play area that are pulled out EVERY time friends come over:). I feel the exact same way regarding the princess stories, so thanks for the book recommendation!

Thanks for the great recommendation and insight. I'm dodging the Disney princesses as well. In part, for the recurring theme that being rescued by a man is the only way they'll escape their entrapment. I love your book recommendations and always click online and place holds at my local library.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered Commentershelley

A fun allternative to princesses are fairies. There are many many children's books that are lovely stories about flower fairies, woodland fairies, etc. Still all the sparkle...just a different type of hero.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I'm also a Disney princess avoider. One of my proudest (that's probably good *and* bad pride) moments as a mother was recently realizing that I'm quite a few years into raising girls and we've never owned *anything* with a licensed character on it. We have more dress-ups than any five families, and they're used absolutely every day, but they're more organic in nature, allowing each item to become whatever my girls' imagination says it is in the moment. My girls have never seen a Disney movie (except in the pediatrician's waiting room), and they haven't suffered one bit. In fact, I'd energetically argue with anyone who'd listen (most won't) that it's made them smarter and infinitely more imaginative. It's always such a relief and a delight to hear that a few others out there understand where I'm coming from!

Glad you're back to blogging!

Those chubby little arms are just too much. I want to munch away at them!!!

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I feel the same way about princesses. Thankfully my 4 year old in three days is actually more interested in reading a med school anatomy text book right now. But I do love the idea about storytelling during that horrible morning ritual of doing her hair. It might get me a chance to do more than a comb and little barrette to keep it out of her eyes.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

That's a great idea for hair brushing time. To distract my son during teeth and hair brushing (which he hates, even though we keep his hair short) we tell him there are animals in his teeth/hair. He listens for the noises they (we) make and then identifies each one. Works like a charm.

06.11.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

Roxie often asks if I can tell her a story during the grueling time that we comb her hair. Thanks to Aunt Brooke, it's made it much easier.

06.12.2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

The illustrations in the Ruth Sanderson version of Cinderella are amazing. I also love Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairy Tale retold by Lynn Roberts and illustrated by David Roberts. It's a 70s groovy funny version, with a lunch lady as the witch. the pair also did an Art Deco Cinderella story which takes place in the 1930s.

06.12.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I recently read an article in the BYU Alumni mag about a mom who felt similar about princesses so she started to expose her daughter to real historical princess through art history (which happened to be her major in college). Her daughter loved learning about REAL princesses and her mother was happy she was getting both a dosage of history and an appreciation for great art. I love the idea...and have vowed to do this if I ever have a girl (although I must confess I fine with girly, sparkly things, so long as they are original and made well...not a fan of the cheap taffeta get ups...and I hear you on the Disney thing).

06.12.2010 | Unregistered Commentermer

Yeah that stuff always come back to bite you in the booty! As for the tangles- my daugther cried EVERY SINGLE time I brushed/combed her hair until she was 8 years old. Thought I was going to have a heart attack. Just this week she, at 11 year old and hormone hair raging in every direction, she had a Brazillian blow out and has baby fine and soft beautiful straight hair.

06.12.2010 | Unregistered CommenterDanee

I always loved "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" for a princess story---I still fondly remember my favorites in the 398s (the dewey decimal system classification for folk and fairy tales) - my favorites were these rather large books called "A book of dragons" or "A book of fairies" - they were all the same height and shape and had different colored covers. I think they were some sort of old school Time Life series, but I can't find the titles at my childhood library any longer...

06.13.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

It's a challenge with the whole princess thing. I feel conflicted with my 3 year old too but I'll wait to take her lead if she does show interest. Like someone else my girl is more into books about doctors and firefighters now. These are great tips about returning to the classics and more historical representations of princesses. Thx!

06.13.2010 | Unregistered CommenterRansacked Goods

oooooh. gotta get this version. looks beautiful.
I don't mind the princess thing but Leila (she's Leila Bea) wasn't obsessive in any sort of offensive way.
I think her princess fever was quite mild. She's 5.5 and not really into princesses too much but I think she'd love this book! Thanks.

06.15.2010 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

Jan Brett is so brilliant. I love everything she does!

Here here with the (Disney) princess thing... Have you guys seen the old early 80's Faerie Tale Theatre shows by Shelley Duvall? They are very sweetly made versions of some of my favorites, and are available for instant streaming on Netflix!

06.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

I love Jan Brett's warthog beast in that book. The artwork in the background of every page with the human version of the scene is a beautiful feature. There is so much to see in each illustration, warranting many re-readings.

06.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterCath

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