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Self-Rescuing Mighty Girls:
40 Books Starring Independent Princesses

Posted on February 13, 2016 by Katherine

40 of our favorite Mighty Girl stories starring smart, confident, and courageous princesses!

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A princess is always pretty, sweet, passive, and needs a prince to rescue her, right? Wrong!

At A Mighty Girl, we receive many questions from people searching for empowering depictions of princesses — books that prove that princesses can be much so more than the limited stereotype usually applied! Instead, princess characters can be smart, strong, courageous, daring, and kind; and most importantly, they can be individuals, just like the children who love hearing their stories.

In this blog post, we feature 40 of our favorite independent princess stories but this is just a small sample of the many great titles available. In our popular special feature The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess, you'll find more than 100 books starring smart, confident, and courageous princesses for all ages!

Independent Princess Favorites

Lovabye Dragon

In this gentle book, a little princess weeps in her bed for the dragon friend she so desperately wants and her tears create a silver trail that lead a dragon who's been dreaming of a little girl to her side! Together, they march and fly, roar and whisper, and enjoy a very special friendship. But after a very busy day, when it's time to get to sleep, there's no better place to snuggle up than nestled with a lovabye dragon. This lyrical book, with its softly shaded illustrations that suggest an additional dimension to the story, is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?

Coyle's Do Princesses...? books feature a little girl who wants to know if she is at all like a princess. Do princesses do the things that she does? In Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?, she wonders if princesses also climb trees, play in the dirt, and even do chores, and gets reassured by a very patient mother that, yes, princesses do all those things. In another popular volume from the series, Do Princesses Have Best Friends Forever?, she spends a busy day playing with a friend — and finds out what a real princess does when she and her friends disagree. These charming stories take the best of classical princess values — kindness, compassion, and friendship — and show how a busy, active Mighty Girl can bring them into her own life.

Frozen Little Golden Book

If your Mighty Girl is captivated by all things Frozen, you can find some great stories using her favorite characters. The story from the movie is adapted in the Frozen Little Golden Book (age 2 - 6), the Frozen Read-Along Storybook (age 3 - 5), and the Frozen junior novelization (age 8 - 12). You can also enjoy an original story in verse about the sisters' relationship in Frozen: A Sister More Like Me (age 6 - 8): the story alternates between Anna and Elsa's voices, and captures both the frustrations of each sister and their enduring bond.

The Mermaid and the Shoe

Every one of King Triton's fifty mermaid daughters has a special gift... but little Minnow only seems to be good at asking questions. So when a mysterious object, a bright red shoe, falls from the surface, Minnow's curiosity is piqued — even as her sisters disdain her for being fascinated by something so unimportant. Only the inquisitive Minnow has the determination to search and search until she successfully follows the object’s path back to its source. There, she not only learns what a shoe is, but also discovers her own talent as an explorer! This charming picture book is an excellent choice for any child who loves magical creatures -- and asking questions! Minnow’s search for her purpose will be familiar to anyone who has wondered what their own talents are, and her abundant curiosity and unflagging determination to find the answers to her questions will inspire young readers.

The Paper Bag Princess

This classic independent princess book features Princess Elizabeth, who is living a normal life in a castle with beautiful dresses and a Prince named Ronald to marry, when her life is turned upside down by a dragon — who destroys her castle and clothes and carries Ronald away! Undaunted, Elizabeth pulls on a paper bag and sets off to get her Prince back. Elizabeth very cleverly defeats the dragon, but Prince Ronald is totally unappreciative: “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.” Needless to say, Elizabeth’s happily ever after does NOT include Prince Ronald.

The Princess and the Pig

A mix-up in the royal nursery results in Pigmella, the piglet, becoming princess while Priscilla, the princess, goes home with the farmer and his wife. The king and queen blame an evil witch, while the farming couple thank a good witch — after all, these things happen in fairy tales all the time! Priscilla grows up poor but happy on the farm, but Pigmella has a harder time. Could kissing a frog work for a pig? And is it really such a great thing to be a princess? This fractured fairy tale includes nods to lots of stories, plus lots of humor for kids and parents — because, when you think about it, some of those old stories are really very silly!

Wonder Woman: The Story of the Amazon Princess

Why can’t a princess also be a superhero? It’s easy to forget that Wonder Woman is a princess, too! This book follows Wonder Woman as she grows up the child of an Amazon queen, and eventually becomes a protector of people everywhere. This title is written as a picture book but has illustrations more like a comic book, which is sure to please kids who want to read real comics; and Wonder Woman’s mission of peace and kindness is sure to inspire. If you’re a fan of this classic comic character, you can find more books and other resources featuring her in our Wonder Woman Collection.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Everyone’s favorite independent pig, Olivia, has her own idea of what she wants to be, as always! When she has an identity crisis because of all the sparkly, ruffly princesses around her, she decides to start reimagining all the other things she could be — starting with princesses from other cultures, and then moving on to developing a “stark, modern style” like Martha Graham or being a reporter “exposing corporate malfeasance.” By the time she’s done, Olivia has shown that dreaming your own, unique dreams is far more satisfying than being part of a crowd. Fans of Olivia can find more Olivia-related books and toys in our Olivia Collection.

The Emperor and the Kite

Little princess Djeow Seow is used to being ignored by her family; she's content to fly her kite made of paper and wooden sticks. But when her father, the Emperor, is taken hostage, and no one else in her family knows what to do, it's clever Djeow Seow who figures out a solution: she'll fly her kite high into the sky so that her father can ride it down from the prison in the tower. The cut paper illustrations are stunning, and kids will love that the tiny princess uses her intelligence and creativity to save the day.

Not All Princesses Dress In Pink

In upbeat verse, this book celebrates all the many kinds of princesses there are: the princesses in this book play sports, roll in the mud, build with power tools, plant gardens, and ride bikes. They wear every color in the rainbow, along with plaid, polka dots, and even helmets and shin guards — but always with their sparkly crowns. The girls in this book are diverse and unique, even as they are all united by the love of playing princess. This fun book full of playful verse is a wonderful celebration of individuality, and reminds every girl reading it of the tremendous potential within her. The repeated chorus of “and a sparkly crown” reminds her that there is nothing wrong with princess play as long as she is also dreaming big about her capabilities!

The Princess and the Pony

Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior princess, but every birthday, all she gets are fuzzy sweaters. So this year, she's completely clear about what she wants: a horse. A big, strong, ferocious war horse! Instead, she gets... a roly-poly pony that's more than a little smelly. While she's disappointed, there's one thing Pinecone knows — a true warrior can take advantage of any opportunity! This silly story from the author of Hark, A Vagrant! is not only fun but also sends the important message that gentleness can often have a greater impact than force.

Part-time Princess

By day, she's a normal girl with a special secret — at night, she becomes a princess! But this princess has a lot of duties to her kingdom: fighting fires and befriending dragons, mastering trapeze arts and learning the fine points of diplomacy with trolls. And while there is a very handsome prince at the ball, this princess knows she's too busy to get married yet! This charming story, complete with a visiting queen who looks strangely familiar, will have your Mighty Girl dreaming up her own princess adventures.

Dangerously Every After

Princess Amanita loves everything dangerous, from her bike with no brakes to her pet scorpion, but she particularly loves her spiky, threatening garden! So when Prince Florian gives her roses, Amanita is most impressed by the thorns, and asks him to send her seeds to add this beautifully hazardous new plant to her garden beds. Unfortunately, a mixup by Florian's gardener sends Amanita on a journey to Florian's castle...one that makes her realize that everyone gets a bit nervous when they go beyond their comfort zone. This wry, sophisticated story is perfect for showing girls just how flexible concepts like beauty can be.

Princess Furball

When she learns that her father intends to marry her to an ogre in exchange for treasure, this clever princess realizes that she'll have to take matters into her own hand to escape — and live the life she chooses. After requesting a lavish bridal gift of three astounding dresses and a cost made from the skins of 1,000 animals, she runs away and hides herself in a neighboring king's kitchen. Disguised by the coat and nicknamed Furball she bides her time until she can attend three royal balls — wearing her three exquisite gowns — and leave tokens to show her interest in the prince, the man she chooses on her own to marry. The resilience and self-reliance of this princess is a delight, and kids will find Princess Furball absolutely charming.

Princess Grace

Two girls are going to be selected as princesses for the town parade, and Grace is determined to be one of them. But how exactly should she dress to be a princess? She asks her teacher for help, and soon the whole class is researching what REAL princesses are like — and learning just how diverse and multi-talented they are! On parade day, her classmates dress as princesses from around the world, with Grace leading the way in West African Kente robes. This fun story starring the irrepressible Grace from Amazing Grace provides a multicultural look at real-life princesses.

The Worst Princess

Princess Sue has been dreaming of finding her own prince for years, but after an interminable wait in a tower, she starts wishing that he'd hurry up! Then, when he finally arrives, it turns out that he's a little too traditional to suit Sue. Now, instead of being imprisoned waiting for her prince, she feels trapped after he puts her in the penthouse of yet another tower. So when opportunity comes along — in the form of a rampaging dragon — it's time for Sue to claim freedom and adventure... and a life of her own making. Kids will giggle at Sue's exasperation and cheer when she finds her own path.

The Magic Nesting Doll

Katya’s grandmother gave her a matryoska nesting doll and told her, “If your need is great, open the doll and help will come. But you may only do so three times. After that the magic will be gone." But now the prince has been changed into living ice, and the kingdom is a perpetual frozen, moonless night. Katya knows she needs to rescue the prince, and the kingdom, but is she clever enough to do it with only three uses of the doll? Based on Russian folklore, this story of how Katya manages to break the enchantment, defeat the villain, and find her happy ending is almost like a reverse Sleeping Beauty.

The Princess In Black

Princess Magnolia is perfectly princessy in every way, but when the monster alarm rings, she ducks into her closet and changes into the mysterious Princess In Black! The Princess In Black is ready to tackle any monster problem but while she's doing that, the nosy Duchess Wigtower is searching the castle for any evidence that Magnolia isn't quite the perfect princess she seems to be. Meanwhile, Duff the goat boy is starting to have his suspicions about who the Princess In Black really is — and wonders whether she could use a sidekick! This fun early chapter book, the first of a series, is sure to appeal to princess and superhero fans. Fans of this book will also enjoy the sequels, The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess PartyThe Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny HordeThe Princess in Black Takes a Vacation, and The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate.

The Princess and the Admiral

This princess story, inspired by a 13th century incident involving Vietnam and Kublai Khan’s navy, shows how cleverness and wisdom can outdo weaponry. Princess Mat Mat of the Tiny Kingdom is celebrating a century of peace when a report comes in that warships are rapidly approaching. Fortunately for the kingdom, the princess knows just how to outsmart the admiral; fortunately for the admiral, after his defeat she declines her advisers’ suggestions of beheading him and instead sends him and his fellow warriors home — graciously providing water buffalo to ride, guides, and provisions for the trip.

Princeless, Vol. 1: Save Yourself!

Adrienne Ashe never wanted to be a princess, but when her mother and father lock her in a tower guarded by a dragon on her sixteenth birthday — so a worthy prince can rescue and marry her, of course — she decides she's had enough. Adrienne befriends the dragon and escapes her tower, and when she learns that her sisters have also been imprisoned, she decides to set off on a quest to free them! With the help of an armorer who can make her something more practical than the "traditional" chainmail bikini, Adrienne is on her way. This delightful and funny graphic novel series, starring a princess of color, is sure to become a favorite. Fans of this volume will also enjoy the sequels Volume 2: Get Over Yourself, Volume 3: The Pirate Princess, and Volume 4: Be Yourself.

The King’s Equal

The king is dying, and has declared his son Prince Raphael to be his heir — if he can find a woman to marry him who is his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth. Vain Prince Raphael searches the kingdom without finding a single woman who measures up. Then Rosamund appears at the palace, and it seems to Raphael that she is absolutely perfect. However, now he has a new problem: how exactly is he going to convince Rosamund that she wants to marry him? The clever fairy tale elements and contemporary social elements make for a fascinating read.

Brave Junior Novelization

Pixar's daring Princess Merida also appears in stories for several age levels. Fans of the film can find an adaptation for almost every age level, from the Brave Read-Along Storybook and CD (age 3 - 6), to the Brave Big Golden Book (age 3 - 8), to the Brave Junior Novelization (age 8 - 12). But you can also get a few original stories inspired by the character, including the board book Magic in the Mist (age 2 - 5) which adds glow-in-the-dark accents on every page to intrigue little readers, and Brave: One Perfect Day (age 3 - 8), which captures Merida's courage and zest for life. They're sure to be favorites with fans of this independent princess.

The Courageous Princess

Princess Mabelrose may not have the grace or beauty of other princesses of New Tinsley's history, but she has courage, conviction, and intelligence to spare! So when she is captured by an evil dragon, she escapes its fortress and begins a daring adventure that will bring her home — but not before she travels through many new lands, makes enemies and friends, and even find true love. The first volume of this series, Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, introduces readers to Princess Mabelrose's daring heart and clever wit; fans will want to follow her adventures in the second volume, The Unremembered Lands, and the newly released third volume, The Dragon Queen.

The Princess Curse

Every night, the princesses of Sylvania dance to exhaustion, and the royal family is becoming desperate to find a cure for the curse. The prince offers a fabulous reward, but anyone who tries falls into and enchanted sleep... or disappears altogether. Thirteen year old Reveka is only an herbalist's apprentice, but if she could find the solution, she could finally achieve her dream: her own herbery. To do it, though, Reveka will have to descend to the Underworld and risk her very soul. A quick read with surprising depth, tween readers will be delighted to cheer on Reveka as she uses her sharp wit and keen mind to save the princesses and the kingdom.

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible

Harriet Hamsterbone finds life as a princess terribly boring...until the day her parents tell her that she's been cursed to prick her finger on a hamster wheel on her twelfth birthday and fall into a deep sleep. Suddenly, a whole world of possibility opens up: after all, if the curse is going to play out, that means she's invincible against every other threat! But when the curse backfires, leaving everyone else in the kingdom asleep, Harriet has to figure out how to break the curse — even if that means finding a prince. Kids will laugh at Harriet's glee, racing off to fight ogre-cats and diving off cliffs, and at her befuddlement when the consequences of the curse turn out to be more complicated than she expected.

Tuesdays at the Castle

Princess Celie loves the mysterious Castle Glower — especially on Tuesdays, when a new room, turret, or tower always magically appears. In fact, she's the only one who's ever mapped all the new additions; everyone else just throws up their hands and says they never know what the castle will do. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed, Celie's knowledge of Castle Glower's ever-changing twists and turns may be the only thing that will save her family — and the kingdom. This fun and magical series continues with Wednesdays in the Tower and Thursdays with the Crown.

The Ordinary Princess

Upon her christening, the fairies gift Princess Amy with Wit, Charm, Health, Courage... and Ordinariness. Unlike her exquisite sisters, Amy's appearance is plain, and she's far more interested in adventures than in marrying a prince. So when her parents try to marry her off, Amy decides to run away, and her gift of being ordinary allows her to blend in perfectly as a kitchen maid in the neighboring kingdom's palace. There, she makes a new friend — but Perry, a "man of all work", has a secret as remarkable as her own. In fact, they may just be the perfect pair... This charming story, with its reminder that looks are unimportant without substance behind them, also captures the power of choosing your own future.

The Princess and the Goblin

When Princess Irene discovers a secret staircase that leads to the top turret of the castle, she's shocked and delighted to find her great-grandmother. But at the same time, Irene's friend Curdie, the miner's son, overhears a goblin plot to overthrow the kingdom. Together — with the help of Irene's magic ring — she and Curdie will have to find a way to prevent the coming disaster... and Curdie will have to learn that, as Irene tells him, sometimes "you must believe without seeing." This classic story, one of the first independent princess tales, is great as a read-aloud for younger children, but will reward re-reading with new nuances to discover.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Princess Tilda dreams of running away from her princess responsibilities: between her love of books and being "cursed" with a crippled foot, she doesn't see herself ruling a kingdom. But when her cousin Ivo usurps her kingdom and holds her hostage, Tilda finds herself on a new path. Alongside her handmaiden and a failed squire, they set off on a quest to find and slay dragons — one  which will challenge everything Tilda knows about her own capabilities and how she feels about her role as a leader. This engaging fantasy celebrates that a Mighty Girl can love books and swords at the same time.

Ella Enchanted

At birth, Ella was given the "gift" of obedience by a foolish fairy; as a result, she cannot refuse any order given to her, no matter what it is — or who gives it to her. Ella's stepmother and stepsisters are more than happy to take advantage of her curse, but Ella is not content to accept her fate. Instead, she sets out to find a way to reverse the curse and spell... and find her own happiness. This Newbery Honor book plays with many aspects of the traditional Cinderella story, but at its heart is an independent, determined heroine who ultimate frees herself.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Princesses Meryl and Addie are as different as they could be: Meryl is brave and adventurous, dreaming of fighting dragons and saving the kingdom, while Addie is shy and fearful and just wants to stay safe inside the castle. When the Gray Death plague strikes, though, and Meryl is fatally ill, Addie has to overcome her fear and attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy, not just to save her sister, but the whole kingdom. Setting off alone with a selection of magical items to help her on her way, Addie will find the courage to defeat spectres, ogres, and even a dragon!

Fairest

In the kingdom of Ayortha, two qualities are prized above all, beauty and an exquisite singing voice...but Aza has only the voice. However, when the new queen, Ivi, discovers Aza's remarkable voice, she blackmails Aza into throwing her voice to make it appear as if Ivi is the singer. To her surprise, Aza finds herself settling in to the castle, even befriending the prince, until the ruse is discovered and Aza has to flee for her life. On the way, though, she'll discover that she is stronger than she knows — and that her appearance is not nearly as important as she thinks. This unique reimagined fairy tale tackles issues about body image and confidence in an absorbing and innovative fantasy setting.

The Thirteenth Princess

Zita is the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted sons, and he was so disgusted by yet another girl that he sent her to the kitchens. But years later, Zita discovers her relationship to the twelve princesses in the castle — and the terrible curse that's left the princesses ill and their shoes in tatters. If Zita doesn't find the source of the curse, the twelve sisters she's only just discovered she has will dance themselves to death. This reimagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses sets a sister's love against a plot to ruin the king; young readers will enjoy comparing the original version to this unique retelling.

Princess Academy

When their small mining village is deemed to be the location of the future princess, Miri and the other teenaged girls are sent to an academy set up by the king’s ministers, where they will learn how to be “proper” princesses before the prince comes to choose one of them as his wife. At first, Miri only has to face the strict, condescending academy mistress and the bitter competition among the girls hoping to be chosen, but when bandits find the academy, determined to kidnap the future princess, Miri has to rally the girls to work together and use her newly discovered power to communicate silently to save herself and all her classmates. Miri’s story also continues in the sequels, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone and Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World

This impressive compilation of 100 heroine-centered folktales offers a refreshing change from traditional ones dominated by male heroes and female damsels in distress. Gathered from regions as diverse as sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe, from North and South American Indian cultures and New World settlers, from Asia and the Middle East, each tale celebrates a strong, courageous, and wise heroine. Whether old or young, these brave mothers, determined warriors, clever girls, and wise rulers are sure to inspire the Mighty Girls in your life.

The Great Good Thing

Sylvie's book was first printed eighty years ago, and ever since then she's been a 12-year-old princess. Her story is exciting — but it's always the same. She longs to explore the world beyond her book's pages, and to do at least one Great Good Thing before she has to be married to a prince like a proper storybook princess. And then, one day, Sylvie dares to look her Reader in the eye and everything changes. This unique, multilayered tale features dangers and challenges both inside Sylvie's book and out, as well as a message about the power of passing on a beloved story.

The Wide-Awake Princess

When you're a princess, being resistant to magic can be lucky, but it can also be incredibly frustrating — like when Princess Amy's sister Gwen pricks her finger on a spindle and Amy is the only one left awake. Now Amy has to find a way to break the spell, which means finding Gwen's true love... whoever that is. And what about Amy's own happy ever after? This fun fractured fairy tale is the first in a series; fans can also check out Unlocking The Spell, The Bravest Princess, and Princess In Disguise.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

This four-part series of hilarious adventure stories stars the Princess Cimorene, who decides that life as a dragon's companion holds infinitely more appeal than a boring life of embroidery and etiquette while waiting for princely rescue! Cimorene strikes a bargain with the dragon Kazul, and soon she's happily ensconced in a dragon's nest, more free than she ever was as a princess. But living with the dragons also gets Cimorene embroiled in plots against the dragons. Fantasy fans will love reading about how Cimorene finds life, love, and family, all on her own terms. To learn more about the first book in the series, check out Dealing With Dragons.

Maleficent Novelization

Disney's intriguing reimagining of Maleficent, the villain from Sleeping Beauty, explores why she would have cursed the infant princess — and whether true love's kiss has to come from a prince. There are two adaptations of this story for young readers. The Curse of Maleficent (age 8 - 12) is written in the style of a fairy tale, and tells the story from the perspectives of the fairies Robin and Knotgrass, and the princess Aurora; beautiful illustrations complement the text. The Maleficent Novelization (age 10 - 14) is told from Maleficent's perspective, and explores more of her thoughts and motivations. Fans of the film can find more products featuring this iconic character in our Maleficent Collection.

The Goose Girl

Ani is the Crown Princess of Kildenree, but she feels most comfortable speaking to animals; she has the gift of speaking in their own languages. As she grows, she never becomes confident speaking with people — which leaves her helpless when a quick-talking lady in waiting leads a mutiny on Ani's journey to get married in a foreign land. Alone and seemingly helpless, Ani becomes a goose girl for the king...and finds a way to turn her special talents to reclaiming her position and stopping war between the kingdoms. This magical story of suspense and adventure is one of three stories in the Books of Bayern series.

The Hero and The Crown

McKinley’s Newbery Award-winning book features a complex and strong main character, Aerin. As the king of Damar’s only child, she should be his heir, but because her mother was a witchwoman from the North, Damarians don’t trust her. But Aerin’s destiny is to battle the black dragon, Maur; meet the wizard Luthe, who gives her both the Blue Sword, Gonturan, and the truth about her mother; and face the evil mage, Agsded, who has taken the Hero’s Crown — the secret strength of Damar itself.

The Sleeper and the Spindle

On the night of her wedding, a young queen hears a tale of a princess trapped by an enchantment... and happily changes her fine robes for chain mail and sets out to rescue her. With her brave dwarf retainers at her side, she begins a journey through the tunnels under the mountain in search of the sleeping kingdom. But when it turns out that the princess is not quite what she seems, the queen will have to choose her own future. This unique story weaves together elements from many fairy tales, including Snow White and Sleeping Beauty; accompanied by stunning illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a volume she'll treasure.

Princess Ben

When Princess Benevolence's parents were killed by assassins, she ends up under the tutelage — and control — of her conniving aunt Sophia. Ben has no patience for the business of ruling, and thinks she's doomed to whatever marriage Sophia finds most useful until she discovers a mysterious enchanted room. After teaching herself a few spells, Ben manages to escape the castle walls, only to discover that non-royal life is full of hardships and dangers too. But when she returns to her position, she faces the biggest challenge of all: proving to her kingdom that she has changed her ways and that she deserves the throne after all. A rollicking coming-of-age story full of fantasy adventure, this book is sure to keep your teen flipping the pages.

A Mighty Girl was founded on the belief that girls and boys both deserve to play strong, independent roles in our books, movies, TV shows, and toys. Empowering girls is good for everyone! So when you go looking for good books to share with the children in your lives, don’t settle for stereotypes. Go looking for the bold, the unique, the diverse, and the creative, and we guarantee, you’ll be happier with what you find.

Additional Recommended Resources


This post was posted in Front Page, A Mighty Girl Top Pick, A Mighty Girl Spotlight and was tagged with books, tweens, teens, preschoolers, fantasy, princesses, school-aged, Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess