Once upon a time (in 2005), I wrote a post about picture book alternatives to the Disney Princess epidemic. I still recommend all of those, but it took me nearly six years to realize that I’d left off one of the best of these. In addition, there are a couple of other books I want to add to the list.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Published in 1992 and predates not only the other books mentioned in the post, but also the whole Disney Princess marketing phenomenon (or at least my awareness of it). Munsch turns the princess story on its head when Prince Ronald is captured by a dragon and Princess Elizabeth rides to the rescue.
Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley and Carol Heyer
Once upon a time, a boy and a girl had to make up a fairy tale for their class but couldn’t agree on how they should do it. The result is this completely hilarious he said/she said, complete with altering points of view, snarky comments by the non-narrator, and a satisfying blend at the end. I read this story to my daughter’s classes from third through fifth grade and they always wanted to hear it again. The sequel, Once Upon a Royal Superbaby (http://www.amazon.com/Once-Royal-Superbaby-Kevin-OMalley/dp/0802721648/) was published last year.
Cinderella Skeleton by Robert San Souci, illustrated by David Catrow (who coincidentally was the illustrator for the wonderful Illinois Library Association’s 2011 iRead theme A Midsummer Knnight’s Read)
And now for something completely different (and definitely for older kids). This is the Cinderella equivalent of The Nightmare Before Christmas. For instance, when she leaves her shoe behind at the ball, her foot stays with it. The illustrations are wonderfully gruesome and the story is definitely satisfying.
And finally, the item that inspired this update: Jonathan Coulton‘s The Princess Who Saved Herself, which was turned into a book (then a video) by a very creative first grade class. Kudos to Ms. Mayo and her first graders, wherever they are. And to Jonathan Coulton (of course).