The poem from long ago says girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. In these books about little girls, the sugar and spice have been replaced with pink cowboy boots, a pretend queen, and and princess-eating aliens.
“Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots” by Rebecca Janni, Illustrated by Lynne Avril, 2011, Dutton Children’s Books, ages 3-7.
Cowgirl meets ballerina in this story of a young girl’s efforts at making new friends. When the barn is turned into a dance hall and neighbors and friends show up for the hoedown, the glittery ballerinas and Ginger, the cowgirl, find common ground. Bright watercolor and ink illustrations depict Ginger’s pink cowgirl hat and boots, along with her pink two-wheeled bike or “horse” Beauty.
“Princess Palooza” by Joy Allen, 2011, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, ages
Imagination and rhyme set the stage for twelve young girls, dressed as princesses, to have an adventure in the park. The group includes a baseball princess and gymnastic princess, as well as the more traditional twirly ballerina and butterfly princesses. The simple story and sweet illustrations remind young girls of the value of being yourself.
“Zoe’s Room: No Sisters Allowed” by Bethanie Deeney Murguia, 2013, Arthur A. Levine Books, ages 3-6
Zoe loves her bedroom, where she creates pretend worlds and is queen of her castle, that is until her little sister Addie becomes her roommate. Now Zoe must share her space and play quietly when her sister is asleep. Zoe resents Addie until one frightful night, when having a sister close by for snuggling is better than being alone. Colorful watercolor and ink illustrations are contrasted with nighttime scenes done in soft shades of blue. “Zoe’s Room” is the companion to the book “Zoe Gets Ready” and this spunky girl will entertain and inspire young readers.
“You Can’t Eat a Princess” by Gillian Rogerson & Sarah McIntyre, 2010, Penguin Group, ages 4-7.
Princess Spaghetti discovers her father, King Cupcake, has been kidnapped by aliens. This princess takes matters into her own hands, hops aboard the royal rocket and heads out to space in search of her father. When she discovers aliens preparing to eat her father for dinner, she uses her best princessy voice to stop this crisis and appeases the monsters with something they will not be able to resist. Imagination and adventure make this story fun, but not a classic.
“The Queen of France” by Tim Wadham, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, 2011, Candlewick Press, ages 4-7.
A young girl’s pretend play includes a tea party, a visit to the Royal Physician, and a trip to a castle. While she is gone, her mother vows to miss her “infinity times infinity”. Young children, and those who read with them, will enjoy the antics of Rose as she creates pretend worlds based on her mood.
These books about young girls remind us that each girl is special in her own way.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler