Warnings: Each story contains clear warnings on the first page.
Positive Representation: So much! There’s a little of everything.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Rejected Princesses is a non-fiction collection of short biographies of all the awesome women you never heard about in history class, and some you did hear about but with parts of their story you weren’t told. Not only does it tell you all this stuff, it pairs this info with wonderfully researched illustrations. The book is written, and illustrated, by Jason Porath, a former DreamWorks animator.
I fell in love with the Rejected Princesses stories when they were originally being published on tumblr, so when I heard they were being collected into a book I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to snap it up. I am damn glad I did. The book covers an amazing collection of women from nearly every time period and part of the world, delving into their stories with careful research and the witty tone you’d expect from something that began its life on tumblr.
The illustrations are lovely and it clear how the Disney/DreamWorks princess formula influenced them, but didn’t define them. There were similar traits across the characters; larger eyes, disney-esque proportions, but they were still heavily varied in their looks and clothing. Many of the stories also contained notes on the art that showed how carefully Porath researched his work for this book.
But, by far, my favorite element of the book were the warnings. The opening page of each story had a maturity rating of 1-5, and trigger warnings for violence, abuse, sex, rape, and/or self-harm. You knew exactly what was going to be mentioned in each story before you even read it, so if there was something you weren’t comfortable with you could skip the story and move on to the next. I am a huge advocate of books containing warnings like this, it is no different than TV and movies warning for such things, but this is the first book I have read that actually REALLY used them within the book itself. With that said, even the level 5 stories with various trigger warnings did not contain any excessive descriptions of said triggers, only really mentioning them in passing.
All in all, this was a fantastic book and I tore through it in only a few evenings. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a nice little introduction to a variety of amazing women, and a huge majority of the stories would be fantastic if you want something to share with your kids to teach them about said women.