Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr

Forget everything you thought you knew about princesses… 

Welcome to Bad Princess, where you’ll discover the truth of what happens after “Happily Ever After.” From the war-torn Dark Ages of Medieval Europe to America’s Gilded Age, and all the way up to Kate Middleton, Bad Princess explores more than thirty true princess stories, going beyond the glitz and glamour to find out what life was really like for young royals throughout history.

A mix of royal biography, pop culture, art, style, and pure fun, Bad Princess is a whip-smart, tongue-in-cheek spin on the traditional princess narrative, proving that it takes more than a pretty crown to be a great leader. For ages nine and up.

A Selection of the Junior Library Guild


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The author of Doomed Queens (2008) examines “princess backlash” and asks: what makes a princess? Vignettes about royals (primarily European) collected under wry chapter headings such as “Princess Wars,” “Those Revolting Royals,” and “When the Tiara Doesn’t Fit” will leave youngsters reeling. Love is not certain, nor are riches. Waldherr’s storytelling voice strikes a fine balance between snarky and sympathetic. Many princesses were political pawns, such as Lucrezia Borgia. Elizabeth Báthory of Slovakia, an accused serial killer, was “bad to the bone.” Some, most notably Princess Diana, got bad deals. Even European fairy-tale princesses such as Snow White and the Little Mermaid endured hardships, even horrors. Readers will marvel that anyone’s able to sell the myth of the happily-ever-after princess. Quotes, factoids, illustrations, and photographs complete the compendium and bring youngsters up to the current day, showing them that princesses willing to take the rei[g]ns can, in fact, achieve success. Modern-day examples of royalty include Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland and Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, reflecting a more diverse mix of women who embody a new stricture all readers can embrace: “A princess can change the world.” Power to the princesses, right on!

Packed with history and context, Waldherr uses an animated, well-rounded approach in this engaging look at princesses in life and lore. After an introduction exploring why princesses remain a source of fascination and influence, subsequent chapters present stories of princesses to examine what being a princess means, including their various characteristics and roles through time, stereotypes and controversies, and ever afters, happy and otherwise. Readers are introduced to sixth-century “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Báthory; opportunistic “Dollar Princesses,” who sought status by marrying royalty; and others who were political pawns, subservient heir-bearers, or depicted as damsels in distress. Along with these, Waldherr also profiles a diverse array of compellingly strong, self-determined princesses who challenged the status quo and endeavored to enact positive change and empower others, like modern-day Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland. The conversational tone, droll commentary, and up-to-date pop-culture references (Disney, natch) make for vibrant, engaging reading, and the lively layout, incorporating sidebars, factoids, and tongue-in-cheek illustrations, further enhance the pages. This absorbing, thought-provoking, and intriguing exploration of a perennially popular topic will both entertain and inform.

A work of nonfiction covering, you guessed it, real princesses. The book is full of facts, pictures, illustrated charts, and more. Readers will learn about Salic law,  “princess wars,” how to wed a prince circa the 1800s, and more. For instance, Salic law was not practiced everywhere. It held that only males could inherit the throne. This is a peppy, interesting read; it’s perfect for tweens. Waldherr makes the information relatable by using current pop culture references, while splashes of color add much to the overall design. The title also will prompt reluctant studernts to learn more about history and what living like a royal was like in the past and present. VERDICT: This is a great book to recommend to readers who want a taste of history with a side of fairy tale princesses.

bad princess inside book

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