Emily’s Tiara Trouble
Samantha Turnbull (2015)
Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin
Being the first of the Anti-Princess Club Series, author Samantha Turnbull has successfully managed to fit an array of issues facing young girls today into one small book. Emily, Bella, Grace and Chloe are sick of their parents assuming they know what they want to do with their lives. Emily reaches breaking point when, much to her disgust, her mum enters her into a beauty ‘spew worthy’ pageant. She is sick and tired of people commenting on how beautiful she is, I mean, don’t they know that she is a mathematician? The girls are sick of ‘girls getting one set of rules and boys getting another’, so the Anti-Princess Club is formed.
My favorite part of the book is when Bella breaks some gender stereotypes and explains “...it’s not about what’s best for boys and what’s best for girls…It’s about everyone being different. Some girls do like fairytales and dolls. I suppose some boys do too.” The whole book tries to encompass this quote; be true to yourself, don’t hide your dreams and those that love you will accept you for it.
Although I think the themes in this book could be carried through to high school, I believe this book is more suited for children in middle to upper primary. The cover and the title will generally appeal to a female reader, however the overall themes could relate to both genders. I cannot wait to read this book to my class, as both boys and girls can connect with the feeling of being misinterpreted by their parents and feeling like the only people who ‘get them’ are their friends.
This book shows that with friendship, support and goals set in place anything is achievable if you set your mind to it. The girls in this story successfully achieve their written goals and this could be used as a model to demonstrate goal setting.
As a year four teacher I find I am constantly having a battle with my students to use words other than ‘said’ when writing. Something that stood out for me in this book was that the author uses a range of vocabulary to demonstrate speech, e.g. scoffs, yells, asks, questions…
I am disappointed that one character is subjected to body shaming by being dubbed ‘Hungry’ by Emily. I know the author was trying to send the message that the girls in the book promoted a healthy body weight and the intention was to provide some comedic relief for a clearly dolled up character, but I believe body shaming in any sort is harmful. This might make students believe it is okay to call naturally skinny girls ‘Hungry’. I do believe that the author has tried to remedy this by making it clear that ‘no one should be judged on their prettiness’.
Tanya Valencic – Christ the Priest Primary School, Melbourne, Victoria