The Guardians Princesses are here.
I first heard of the Guardian Princesses via Black Girl Nerds. With birthdays and gift-giving holidays coming up, and nieces and nephews of the targeted age range for these books, I knew these were books I needed to check out and share.
What intrigued me? The mission of the Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA) reads as follows:
We aim to transform the cultural meaning of princesses and princes into positive role models who take action to protect living beings and the planet for future generations.
We seek to promote greater racial, cultural, and gender inclusivity. We expand the cultural representation of beauty by including different size princesses and princes, as well as those with disabilities.
To produce high quality educational tools that are entertaining. Our goal is to utilize multimedia platforms to educate readers and users about current global issues and how we can all be part of the solution.
Our stories promote greater awareness of the environment and aim to advance children’s knowledge in STEM subjects (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics).
Our stories combine teaching ethical principles with the practical imperatives of helping parents, teachers, and children meet Common Core State Standards.
With how much princess culture has been marketed to our girls, supporting a diverse group of princesses who are solving problems themselves is something I want to support.
Image: Courtesy of the Guardian Princess Alliance
There was an initial trilogy crowd-funded over a year ago through Indiegogo. Another recent Indiegogo campaign raised money for the fourth book in the series. While there’s no statement that says there will be a book for each of the seven princesses, it seems logical that there will be. The first set of princesses represent cultural and race diversity within a body size of 2-14, appearing “traditionally beautiful.” The GPA mentions that they will have a second round of princesses with whom they will expand the range of body types.
Princess Terra and King Abaddon is the first book in the series, introducing the Guardian Princesses. The book summary:
Princess Terra is the Guardian of the Land. Her role is to care for and protect the land that allows her fellow people to lead healthy and balanced lives. All is well until the greedy King Abaddon comes and tries to take it away and make it his own. How will Princess Terra stop King Abaddon from forcing them off their land?
Princess Terra most closely resembles princesses from princess culture in terms of race, size, and traditional beauty standards. The first few pages of the story seem familiar – the princess wanders the land and the art images of the farmers resemble those of any other princess story. However, the children and farmers come to Princess Terra with their problems and she works to solve them.
The major conflict in this story is King Abaddon sending his emissary to find land to mine coal from, the land Princess Terra takes care of is rich in coal, and her refusal to sell the land for gold. Her refusal brings King Abaddon and his venomous snakes. Here, this story diverges from traditional princess stories. Rather than a prince or man coming to save the princess and her community, Princess Terra works to solve the problem herself. However, she doesn’t know how to solve this problem, so she uses teamwork, and consults with a friend. Princess Saya, the Guardian of Lakes and Rivers, who knows reptiles, teaches Princess Terra the tools she needs to overcome the venomous snakes. The solution is also non-violent.
I thought the next book might be about Princess Saya since she was introduced in the first book, and I was wrong. Princess Vinnea and the Gulavores is the second book in the series. The book summary:
Princess Vinnea is the Guardian of Plant Life in the land of Hortensis. At harvest time, a mysterious stranger appears with Gulavores that destroy their crops and gardens. He then feeds the people his unnatural food which makes them ill. How will Princess Vinnea help her people?
Princess Vinnea gives us a black princess and a black community. Except for when Princess Terra shows up to give aid (but not as a white savior), all the characters in this book are people of color.
The major conflict of this story is a lack of harvest before the harvest festival due to Gulavores sent by Danga, a man interested in selling his own food. He convinces the king, King Usambara, to buy the food for his community. Princess Vinnea thinks the extra large fruits and vegetables are unhealthy, and this proves true, making the community who eats it ill. Princess Vinnea writes to Princess Terra, met in the previous book. Together, they find a solution. This solution involves magic, but is still non-violent.
The third story of the series is Princess Mariana and Lixo Island. The book summary:
Princess Mariana is the Guardian of the Seas. One day, Princess Mariana and her friends discover dangerous garbage that is polluting their beautiful waters. This garbage comes from Lixo Island, a land of trash and filth ruled by the Spumas. How will she prevent the Spumas on Lixo Island from harming marine life?
Princess Mariana doesn’t wear a princess dress, but rather a long shirt with shorts. Princess Mariana interacts mostly with animals, although there are some people in her story.
The major conflict of this story is an island turned to garbage, which is leaking into the ocean that Princess Mariana protects. King Abaddon is behind the making of this garbage pile, and it is too large to clean up by regular means. Princess Mariana sends birds for help, and Princesses Terra, Vinnea, and Ten Ten, Guardian of the Skies, arrive to help. Each uses their own special guardian power to work together to clean up Lixo Island. There is a good environmental theme to this story. Princess Mariana encourages recycling at the outset, and the princesses do magical recycling at the resolution. We also get our first prince of the series, Prince Amel.
A similar component to the conflict in the books is slightly anti-capitalist. Given that message is counter to most in the American culture, it is a thought-provoking twist. In addition, there is a bit of an anti-GMO and processed foods line. I have a concern that the pastoral life is overly promoted and industry shaded to an extent that creates unrealistic views of how life can be lived by large groups of people.
A new Indiegogo just wrapped up, supporting publication of the fourth book in the series, Princess Ten Ten and the Dark Skies!
The books are aimed at ages 2 and up, with a focus on the 2nd and 3rd grade. In addition to providing inspiring lessons and ethical models for our children, the books are also designed to meet the current Common Core State Standards. Besides being sold on the GPA website, the books are available at Amazon.