Book Review: I am Not a Princess by Bethany Burt, Brenda McCallum

I am Not a Princess is a picturebook written by Bethany Burt and illustrated Brenda McCallum. Princesses get to wear fancy dresses and beautiful jewels. They live happily ever after with the prince of their dreams in a splendid castle in the countryside. Plus, they are never burdened with boring chores or unpleasant activities. Their only real job is looking pretty. But when Eliza, dressed in full princess fashion, tries to join in on the fun in her household and neighborhood, she is disappointed to discover that being a princess prevents her from doing many of the things she loves. She can t ride a bike, play baseball, help her father paint, or bake cookies with her mom. See what happens as her frustration builds.
I am Not a Princess is a look at identity, imaginative play, and stereotypes. Everyone knows that princesses have it easy, all they need to do is look pretty, stay clean, and have good manners. When Eliza dresses up as a princess she is firm in this idea as a princess, and is not willing to break that role- even when it means missing out on playing with her older brother, riding bikes with her best friend, or baking cookies with her mom. I like that her frustration eventually has her shedding the jewels and joining in the fun. I admire her gumption in sticking to the role as she saw it, her tenaciousness is admirable. However, I would rather she had changed the role of a princess and proclaimed that she can do both, act and dress as a princess while having any kind of fun she wanted. As far as I am concerned, especially while playing pretend, who is to say that a princess cannot play sports or bake cookies? I have long been a fan of princesses that wear what ever color they want and are willing to climb trees and play in the dirt rather than commit to a role that they can not fully enjoy.
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