If I’m ever locked in a high tower and guarded by a dragon, I’d like to be rescued by royalty on unicorns. I’d also prefer my guard dragon act more like a chubby house cat than a fierce fire-breathing reptile.
Basically, my ideal outcomes for a princess-locked-in-a-tower scenario resemble Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill.
Sadie is a kind and gentle exiled princess who is locked in a high tower by her evil sister after the death of their father. Amira is a unicorn riding, do-gooding princess with “kick butt hair” who is up for any kind of challenge. The pair meet when Amira is riding around, listening for the sounds of people in distress. She’s never rescued a princess before, but succeeds with the help of her cookie loving unicorn. Together, the pair ride off together and utilize their individual strengths to make a difference in their world.
Each character in Princess Princess Ever After is somehow different from the standard tropes of princess stories. O’Neill’s characterization is diverse and her artwork is superbly rendered. Amira has dark skin, a cool haircut, and looks pretty trim; Sadie is light skinned, soft, and blond. The color scheme is simple and evocative of Snow White era Disney movies, which works to reinforce the new standard of princess story that Princess Princess Ever After sets.
One of the greatest strengths of Princess Princess Ever After is the way it depicts the process of self-discovery and personal growth as normal parts of life. “Be yourself” is a great goal, but it can be hard to attain, particularly when “being yourself” feels like the exact opposite of what everyone else wants you to do. One of my favorite parts of the story is how the pair delays the “happily ever after” ending so they can both focus on their individual goals and needs. Talk about healthy behaviors!
Princess Princess Ever After is a strong addition to the new wave of strong princess characters in children’s literature. This graphic novel for younger readers deserves a place next to The Paper Bag Princess and The Princess and the Pony.
Princess Princess Ever After
by Katie O’Neill
Oni Press, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 4-8