Can A Princess Be A Firefighter?

A parent offers a world of ideas for daughters when they grow up in this illustrated ode to girls. 

Two little girls—one with curly brown hair and blue eyes, the other blonde with brown eyes—ask a parent innocently whether a princess can also be a firefighter. The girls present a firefighter’s hat, a judge’s gown, and their sparkly tiaras in tandem. Their parent assures them they can be anything they’d like and begins a litany of careers, some traditionally feminine and others not, all accompanied by pictures of the girls in costumes for each job. The girls respond with delight but also some concern: “You think a bit, then tell me, / ‘I’d love to do all those things.’ / ‘Will I have to stop princessing?’ you ask. / ‘Could I still wear my fairy wings?’ ” Arkova’s illustration shows the wonderful juxtaposition of fairy wings worn on top of a doctor’s scrubs and a cowpoke’s duds. The parent continues with even more possibilities: truck drivers, sculptors, police officers, explorers, mayors, clothing models, sailors in the Navy, teachers, or mothers, and the list goes on. And given all the options, the parent suggests, why not try more than one? But there’s no pressure on the girls to choose right away; the parent lets them know they can change their minds and that their work should be something they enjoy. The conclusion, however, reminds the girls that they will always be princesses to their parent. Arkova’s decision to never reveal the gender of the parent in the perfectly pastel images is felicitous; no matter which parent reads the book aloud to his or her children, they’ll receive the same message of female empowerment. There are moments, between the illustrations and the rhymes, that border on saccharine, and all of the book’s characters are white. But those flaws are offset by the sheer variety of possibilities veteran author Roman (If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy, 2016, etc.) offers the two young girls. Unfortunately, the parent never satisfactorily answers the girls’ question: can a doctor keep princessing and wearing fairy wings? That concern about what grown-ups have to leave behind may linger for young lap readers—or be easily forgotten in the parade of jobs in delightful rhyming cadence. A sweet celebration of girlhood that embraces both the traditional and the progressive.

Pub Date: March 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5303-6184-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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