Princess or Superhero? Dress or cape? Beauty or strength?
The Princess in Black says you can do both.
To the world, Princess Magnolia is just like any other princess – frilly dresses, glass slippers, and all. She enjoys prim-and-proper with her princess friends – until her monster-alarm ring goes off. “What is that sound?” they ask. She dodges the question, makes her way to the broom closet, and changes into superhero attire. Through a secret tunnel, she exits unnoticed. Landing on her horse’s back, she is on a mission. She is… The Princess in Black.
“Nah, I don’t like black,” my daughter told me when I showed her the book for the first time. But since another book meant delaying bedtime, she agreed. By the time we turned the first page, she was hooked.
I summarized 5 life lessons girls can learn from the series, though I’m sure there are more. Let me know if I missed anything!
Life Lesson #1: You don’t need to choose
Your daughter is discovering who she is. And, as if she needed help, people are always ready to chime in. Is she a girly-girl or a tom-boy? Athlete or artist? Leader or follower?
Labels limit her because of their all-or-nothing definition. If she is a tom-boy today, can she wear a rainbow dress tomorrow? Does climbing a tree make her “one of the guys?” I still can’t find an equivalent to this experience for boys (if you can, please tell me in the comments!)
Girls don’t need to be defined. Yes, the Princess in Black keeps her two identities separate. But she knows she can be both. She can host the cutest princess birthday party and keep nearby monsters from eating innocent goats – all on the same day. This princess is not defined by one label. Rather, she swiftly moves between them – and she rocks both!
Life Lesson #2: Nobody just “woke up like this”
Monsters don’t attack at convenient times. When her monster alarm rings, Magnolia has to find a believable excuse to get away. She rushes down the secret chute to wherever she is summoned. She fights monsters, and saves goats from being eaten. Safety restored, she heads back, passes spiders and bats as she climbs up the chute. She then changes back into her pink frilly dress, and returns to the castle as Princess Magnolia.
When she is the Princess in Black, she misses out on activities in the castle. But if she stayed in the castle, she’d deny her destiny. Going back and forth is hard, especially when she has to act like it’s a piece-of-cake, which it is not. Being a superhero is hard, whether you are saving goats or dealing with friendship drama. Even when other girls act like it’s easy, it’s OK to admit when it isn’t.
Life Lesson #3: The world may not recognize your awesomeness
Being a superhero has its price – but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
The world is unaware of how the Princess in Black keeps it safe. She isn’t on the news, and she doesn’t have a youtube channel to broadcast her fights. Still, she chooses to do what she does, even without recognition. Her reward is knowing that she did the right thing – and that no goats were eaten that day.
What would become of the world if she didn’t rush to the rescue every time a monster peaked out of those holes in the ground? I have a feeling nobody knows how important her work really is.
By saving the world in the way that only the Princess in Black can, she also keeps them from knowing what would happen if she didn’t. I have a feeling women around the world can relate.
Life Lesson #4: You don’t need to be perfect to be a princess
In book 2, our hero has to leave her own birthday party repeatedly due to monster related crises. Princess Sneezewort notices that something is up with Princess Magnolia. Why is her dress on backward? Why is her crown almost falling off?
Though the princess moves swiftly between identities, she isn’t perfect. And she doesn’t beat herself up when she misses a detail or two. Somehow she always makes it work in the end. Her life is an adventure, not a perfect picture.
Life Lesson #5: You don’t fit in boxes
The Princess in Black does things that princesses don’t do. “Princesses don’t wear black stockings,” says the first book. Princesses don’t ride fast on horses, and princesses certainly don’t fight monsters. Or do they?
Who cares what princesses do or don’t do? The Princess in Black does what SHE does. She is not defined by other people’s rules. She doesn’t seem bothered by it, either. The Princess in Black is who she is. Period.
This life lesson is one of my favorite in the series. It’s a tongue-in-cheek but honest confession of how culture tries to fit girls in a box. But girls don’t belong in boxes. They’re not things. They don’t need to be stored or shipped. Girls just are who they are.
So, there it is. 5 lessons girls can learn from the Princess in Black books. I am so grateful to the authors for giving my family the gift of these awesome stories. I’m excited to see where Brave Girls take the lessons from this series.
I’m sure girls around the world will take these stories with them as they grow up. Women balance roles like nobody’s business. As a man, I can only learn from what I see princesses in black around me do all the time, every day.
For a list of The Princess in Black books on Amazon, just click here.