• Picturebook Snob

Not just a frilly dress

Eight inspiring picture books with powerful princesses

We've been sharing empowering and stereotype-squashing stories all week for International Women's Day. Here's a selection of our favourite picture books featuring powerful princesses...

Here Be Dragons by Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly, Frances Lincoln, February 2021

This brand new story from Susannah Lloyd and Irish illustrator Paddy Donnelly is about a pompous knight whose observation skills leave a lot to be desired. He sets out in search of dragons, but its the princess he meets on his quest who saves the day and steals the show.

Read a longer review and take a peek inside...


I Can Catch a Monster by Bethan Woollvin, Two Hoots, September 2020

Bo's brothers tell her she is too little to join them on their monster hunt. Determined to prove that she is just as capable as they are, Bo creeps out of her castle and embarks on an adventure of her own. This wonderful picture book promotes compassion and empathy, and celebrates the strength of all girls, regardless of their age. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...

You Can't Eat a Princess by Gillian Rogerson and Sarah McIntyre, Scholastic, March 2010

It's Princess Spaghetti's birthday and an elaborate chocolate-heavy feast has been prepared. Just as the guests are about to arrive, the princess discovers her father, King Cupcake, has been kidnapped by aliens! When her cowardly knights refuse to help, the brave and determined princess zooms off into space on a delightfully daft rescue mission. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...

Princess Swashbuckle by Hollie Hughes and Deborah Allwright, Bloomsbury, August 2018

Kindness rules in this magnificent modern fairy tale and frog princess story with a difference, which encourages children to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams. Swashbuckle is a princess and a frog who longs for a life on the ocean waves and runs away to become a pirate queen. Instead of terrorising the seas, Swashbuckle transforms the lives of those around her by helping everyone she meets. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...


The Princess and the Shoe by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton, Nosy Crow, June 2019

A clever, interesting, progressive and humourous take on Cinderella. Jasmine is a princess who hates "long dresses and other smart clothes." Jasmine constantly hears that she's "meant to look pretty, smile sweetly, be calm" and "stand still, smile and wear a nice hat. Jasmine shows everyone they're wrong and proves that "there's no end to the things that a princess can do!" Read a longer review and take a peek inside...


Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights by Steven Lenton, Nosy Crow, February 2015

"The trouble with most fairy tales, is that they sound the same..." Thus begins this terrific book, which couldn't be more different to traditional tales featuring distressed damsels in need of rescue. This celebrates kindness and the magic of a brilliant bedtime story, and features a courageous princess who refuses to be confined to a tower. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp and Sarah Ogilvie, Simon and Schuster, April 2012

Princess Sue waits in a tower for a prince to come along and take her on an adventure. When one finally arrives, he brings Sue straight to his castle. To Sue's dismay, the prince tells her that he "wears the armour here" and that "dragon bashing's not for girls." Although the prince expects her to "just smile a lot" and twist her curls, Sue spectacularly takes control of her destiny. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...

Don't Mess with a Princess! by Rachel Valentine and Rebecca Bagley, Puffin, August 2019

A rampaging ogre causes havoc in a kingdom far, far away. Meanwhile, knights are dispatched by the king, who ushers his granddaughters up to their turret, forbidding them from getting involved. But Thea, Leaf and Juno are not the kind of princesses that stay locked in a tower for long! Read a longer review and take a peek inside...


And there's more!


Rapunzel to the Rescue by Lucy Rowland and Katy Halford, Scholastic, August 2020

Not quite a princess but the heroine of this magnificent gender-swapped fairy tale retelling is still a fantastic role model. In this version, Rapunzel is a courageous and kind-hearted musician who rescues a captive, and very hairy, prince. This story turns the tables on more typically portrayals of Rapunzel as a damsel in distress with little or no agency. Read a longer review and take a peek inside...

For fans of YA fiction and warrior women...


The Cursebreakers Series Books 1-3 by Brigid Kemmerer, Bloomsbury, 2019 - 2021

Loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, this is a feminist exploration of the classic fairy tale. Set in present-day Washington D.C. as well as the magical kingdom of Emberfall, this series combines fantasy with contemporary storytelling. The characters are amazing and there are lots of seriously strong women, many of them princesses. The series is also diverse and inclusive with LGBT and Black, Asian and minority ethnic protagonists and one with cerebal palsy. Read a longer review...

Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Karen Vaughan, Little Island Books, October 2020

Intriguing, invigorating, ferocious, feminist, provocative, profound and absolutely exquisite, this reimagining of Irish legend The Children of Lir is destined to become a future classic. Savage Her Reply is a book that really gets under your skin. Sullivan's words cast their own spell, giving the reader the sensation of grass underfoot, the smell of lake water, the rustling of wind through forests, and whispers in an ancient tongue. Read a longer review...


I shared this post on Instagram as part of the #8brilliantbooks challenge created by Esther of @mrsbrownsbookbox and Laura of @loveableliterature. Check out their brilliant #bookstagram pages for more fabulous collections. Use the hashtag and tag Esther and Laura in your posts if you'd like to get involved and share #8brilliantbooks yourself. A new theme is announced every Monday.

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