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MOMBIAN Princess, maiden fall in love in new children's book
by Dana Rudolph
2019-05-22

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A maiden falls in love with a princess at a multiracial royal court in a delightful new children's book that adds to the growing number of LGBTQ fairy tales.

Maiden & Princess—by Daniel Haack and Isabel Galupo, and illustrated by Becca Human—is the third book to come out of the partnership between LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD and Bonnier Publishing USA, following Haack's Prince & Knight and Jack ( Not Jackie ), by Erica Silverman. In the latest work, a king and queen host a ball to find a bride for their son the prince. One maiden, however, the prince's erstwhile battle companion, "wasn't that excited." She views him as a brother—but when she meets his sister, the princess, something different happens. They spend the evening talking under the stars, and even the king and queen can see they are "the perfect pair."

The royal family members all are Black and their court is broadly multiracial. That's a refreshing change from many a U.S.-published fairy tale. The maiden has lighter skin than the princess, though she isn't necessarily White. The costumes take much from the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, but a variety of headdresses and jewelry among the people at court seem to hint at several cultures ( some echoing vaguely African and South Asian styles ) within this fantasy world. The palm trees that decorate the court also indicate this isn't meant to be set in the Europe we know.

While both the princess and maiden are equally active in playing games, wielding swords, and riding dragons, the maiden usually favors pants and the princess wears dresses, a nice nod to varieties of gender expression. The princess also seems to have an interest in astronomy ( she is depicted using a telescope to view the stars ), which gives the book bonus points for showcasing women in science, even in a pre-modern world. The maiden's pet dragon, who appears without dialogue in many scenes, adds an extra touch of whimsy.

It is also commendable that the two women don't rush to be wed. After the ball, they "filled their days together" and "faced adventure head-on" until "the day finally came" for them to marry. This reviewer has always worried that the "love at first sight and immediate marriage" trope of many a fairy tale ( queer or not ) gives children unrealistic expectations about relationships. The pace here seems much more prudent, without bogging down the narration.

This is a welcome addition to the genre of LGBTQ-inclusive fairy tales ( which began in 2002 with King & King, by Linda de Haan and Stern Mijland, and now includes numerous titles ) and to books about strong women in control of their lives and loves.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


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