Monday, November 17, 2014

I hate this terrible #@$!ing book

So, ladies and gentlemen, I have a daughter who is in kindergarten. And on Mondays, she gets to go to the school library and pick out a book.

These past few weeks, my patience has been sorely tried, for she wants princess books. All princesses, all the time. I'm not ashamed to say that I am fucking sick and tired of princesses, and I just might have said something to the effect of “princesses are terrible” in my daughter's hearing.

I don't actually mean it, and I try to draw contrasts between princesses that have redeeming features – Wonder Woman is a princess and no one cares because she's a superhero. Merida is a princess who hates being a princess because it places unrealistic expectations on her and keeps her away from doing the things she loves. Twilight Sparkle may be a princess, but she's much more interested in helping people and her friends than the perks of princessdom.

But I haven't drawn a hard line. Last week, Daina brought home a book of Disney Princesses, including Princessified Merida, and the puppies that they found or were given by their wonderful princes.

This was not the best choice for anyone involved.

Clearly, I have a rebel on my hands.

But this isn't about my daughter – and do be aware that I will be reading this book to her, because she picked it out herself. But I might have to add in some commentary, because the book she brought home this week is a terrible fucking book.

What's gotten me so worked up, you ask? Well, let's us take a look. The book in question is Princess Penelope's Parrot, by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Here, go take a look, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that you actually buy this book – because the author should feel terrible about themselves.

There's the germ of a good idea, here. The Princess in question is a terrible spoiled brat. She gets a parrot for her birthday, saying things like “MINE! MINE! MINE!” and “GIMME GIMME GIMME!” She doesn't say please or thank you, and treats her parrot terribly, so the parrot remains silent, until a prince comes along to visit. At which time, of course, the parrot repeats all the terrible things she's said, and the prince leaves because he doesn't want to be around a terrible person. The parrot escapes too, and the prince and the parrot live happily ever after.

That's a good, solid story, and I wouldn't have any problem with that.

Too bad there's a big load of terrible to go with it.

Let's take a look at our spoiled brat princess, Penelope. She is drawn and portrayed as young, maybe five or six years old. The book talks about her putting on her frilliest dress and cleaning up her room, leaving out only the most expensive toys. Why, you might ask?

Because she's a marriage-crazed gold-digger who's heard the prince is rich, and wants to marry him so she can be lazy and watch television all day.


The narrative here is literally that she wants to use her feminine wiles to get herself a wealthy man so she can exploit him. If you don't think that's a problem, well, I invite you to go check out some Men's Rights Activist websites and come back, tell me if that's not a damaging myth. (No, really, go ahead. I'll wait. Are you back? Here, have a picture of a corgi to help lower your blood pressure.)

Corgis are panaceas.

So, we'll let our story continue. Note that among the abusive threats being repeated by the parrot is a “ball and chain.”

He runs away, prince and parrot live happily ever after.

And what does our princess learn from all this?


...when I read this book to my daughter, I am skipping this page. It's the last page of the book. It's the moral of the story, which is apparently “Gold-diggers gonna gold-dig, what ya gonna do?”

Yeah... I need to teach my daughter to be more discerning with her princesses.

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