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Review: Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

One of the things I enjoy about Tumblr is that you never know what surprising new thing will cross your path. One day on my dash, amid all the posts about incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, people being thrilled by Yuri on Ice (it’s charming; I loved it) and The Science Side of Tumblr, a post about Jason Porath’s Rejected Princesses artwork came past putting some vapour-brain who claimed no woman of colour ever invented a thing or amounted to much.

Following the links I discovered that Jason Porath had once worked as an animator for Dreamworks. The idea for his series of the women of history and legend who deserve to be better known came from Jason and his fellow animators discussing the questions: Who is the least likely candidate for an animated princess movie? (Hence the ‘Rejected’ in front of ‘Princesses’ in the title.)

Porath kept suggesting women he’d learned about that the rest of the crew had never heard of.  “I thought that should change,” he says in the forward.

The result is a book of nearly 100 women of history and legend (some smudging that line) who were powerful, cunning, determined, inventive, deadly, ambitious, righteous, and altogether superbly badass.

Each entry is illustrated with a portrait in an animated-princess style, though the subject matter isn’t necessarily Disneyesque. Each is coded with markers to note how graphic the content will be, from a nice good defeats evil green to warning for violence, abuse, rape and self harm, so that readers can better choose what to share with their kids.

Sounds grim at times, but Porath has a flair for storytelling and a sassy wit, in the footnotes as well as the text. His breeziness doesn’t ignore the more troubling parts of these women’s fates (or sometimes very stabby behaviour). They’re not all good women, but they are women of note who should be better known.

Of course, some of them are well known to me, like Ada Lovelace and (thanks to Netflix’s Marco Polo series) Khutulan, but most were new to me.

One reviewer questioned the historical accuracy of some entries, but Porath provides a bibliography and I look forward to investigating more about these women, now I know who they are.

I read my copy on my Kindle app on the iPad so I could better enjoy the colourful art.

 

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Review: Draculiza by Bianca Bagatourian (story) and Seitu Hayden (art)

Draculiza cover“Why…why…why can’t I be a princess?” asked Draculiza quietly.

“Because…my dear, you don’t have rosy cheeks or long golden hair. And I’m afraid you are entirely too short to be a princess,” said Draculiza’s mother gently.

“Pointy ears! Pointy ears!” added the wise Spike.

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Cedar Grove Books is a new US press producing children’s and Young Adult books, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mysteries and even some graphic novels. They’ve got some cool looking stuff out already, and more on the way – including this entertaining little gem, Draculiza.

For starters, I loved the idea of a little vampire who wants to be a princess, and then is told she can’t be one because she doesn’t look right for the part. She determines to apply to the Fairy Tale Association anyway, puts on a disguise and sets about doing what she can to become a princess. (“This is not right. Everybody has a little princess inside them, and mine wants to come out now.”)

Draculiza bedtimeThe most fun is had with Draculiza in her disguises getting into all the fairytales and making a mess of them – I admit I wish there was more of that – but of course, fairy tales have strict rules and things really aren’t working out. After spreading havoc far and wide – and being cheered up by her faithful little bat Spike – she has an epiphany of sorts. (At least for now.)

It’s a simple idea and a sweet story, with charming art, about knowing who you are and being really good at that.

The book is available as an ebook and as a hardcover.

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