Don’t despair at the tide of cultural glitter swamping young girls today. There are still writers producing funky female characters who don’t get their knickers in a twist at the prospect of a difficult challenge.
A blight of restrictive suffixes – marking books out as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ has crept over the kids’ publishing landscape during the past couple of decades – and, while more enlightened publishers have now sworn off explicit gender division – girls of picture-book age are still overwhelmed with princess-pink sparkly-pony messaging. Be pretty – passive and vapid and your reward will be to remain so while the prince you married gets on with the juicy business of living.
But where are today’s equals of Princess Smartypants – intriguing, funny, unformulaic, and unbranded?
Good news – there are many subversive antidotes out there, although they require some tracking down amid the glittery tide.