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May 25, 2022

Tackling the role of the princess

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Samantha Turnbull’s new book series challenges the perception and roles of princesses. Photo Jeff Dawson
Samantha Turnbull’s new book series challenges the perception and roles of princesses. Photo Jeff Dawson

It was a full house at Mary Ryan’s bookshop on Saturday when local ABC journalist turned children’s author Samantha Turnbull launched her children’s fiction series The Anti-Princess Club.

Ms Turnbull was joined by four young readers who shared a chapter from each of the books highlighting the key theme ‘We don’t need rescuing!’

The author developed the concept for the series shortly after giving birth to her daughter Liberty.

‘My daughter’s head was still smeared with blood and vernix when she was given her first tiara,’ says Samantha.

‘I dismissed it as a harmless gesture, but within days I counted no fewer than a dozen princess-themed products.

‘Clothes, books, dolls, even my daughter’s Huggies were plastered with images of Cinderella, Belle and other princesses.’

As part of her market research Ms Turnbull visited the children’s section of a bookshop where she noted that of the 50 titles on offer in the ‘girl’s section’, 45 of those were stories about princesses and the other five were about fairies.

‘I think we need to show girls that there is more than one way to be a girl’ says Ms Turnbull.

‘There is nothing wrong with most things in moderation, but the messages are so pervasive and repetitive.

‘The stories tell girls they are passive, they need rescuing, the characters are solely focused on men and love.’

Turnbull has created a modern story that centres around four 10-year-old best friends who each have a range of passions and talents that don’t fit into the wider world’s ideas of what girls ‘should’ like or be good at.

The characters’ talents range across pursuits as diverse as maths, building, athletics and science.

The books are published through Allen & Unwin and are available now.

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