Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Dress Like a Girl - or a Princess

Apparently, when I was very young I insisted on wearing dresses – the frillier the better. I’m told that I wanted to be a princess. What I remember, though, is playing cowboys and spies, and wanting to be a fashion designer (this will be a surprise to all my friends who know my taste in clothes). So here are two books that celebrate the complexities of growing up girl.

theme: girls, growing up, friendship

Dress Like a Girl
by Patricia Toht; illus. by Lorian Tu-Dean
32 pages; ages 4-8
HarperCollins, 2019

What does it mean to dress like a girl?

There are, apparently, rules one should follow to look your best. Perhaps you have heard someone say you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day or never wear socks with sandals. Thank goodness Patricia Toht reveals secrets in how to heed rules “in your own way”. With great fun, she shows a diversity of ways that girls can interpret fashion advice.

On how to wear white, for example, think beyond the linen pantsuit to: a lab coat, angel wings, or perhaps a space suit! As to that “little black dress” – imagine it as a gown and you could be conducting a symphony. Or, adding a lace collar, be sitting on the Supreme Court.

What I like about this book: It’s fun! It encourages kids to think about fashion as an art, and as a way to self-expression. As Patricia notes, “Can’t find what you like? Then design something new!”

The Absolutely, Positively No Princesses Book 
by Ian Lendler; illus by Deborah Zemke 
36 pages; ages 4-9
Creston Books (Lerner), 2018

Greetings dear reader! My name is Lilliana Arianna de Darlingsweet-Amazingface!

But we can call her LaDeeDa for short. She is princess pink and speaks in fancy font. But Lita, who sports plain overalls and an attitude, insists that there is no room in the book for princesses. LaDeeDa offers to help Lita. She suggests a fancy dress, or bedazzling with glitter. Lita would rather work on a ranch, and tries very hard to push LaDeeDa off the page. Boundaries are crossed. Words are said. Feelings are hurt.

What I like about this book: despite my loathing of pink, this is a fun book to read. I love that the story is told through dialog, and that each character has her own font. And color. I like that this dialog begins before the first page, when LaDeeDa says Lita’s font has no flair. I smiled when LaDeeDa finds herself stepping in cow poo. At which time she pointedly says, “You don’t like glitter, but you have allowed a cow to poop in your book.” But what I really like is when LaDeeDa says that a real princess can do anything she sets her mind to. And I realized, it’s not princesses I don’t like, but the way they’ve been portrayed in our books and movies. But I still don’t like pink.

Beyond the Books
Make a paper doll model and design your own fashion line. This is way faster than sewing clothes for a doll. Here, one blogger tells how. Here’s another downloadable template for a doll. Now create some clothes. Hint #1 – if you don’t have tracing paper, tape your doll to a window and you can see its outline through a sheet of paper. Hint #2 – remember to include tabs for clothes.

Create your very own Superhero cape from an old (large) T-shirt. Here's how (video)

Check out this interview with Patricia Toht where she talks about the inspiration for her book, Dress Like a Girl.

What sort of things can a princess do if she puts her mind to it? Queen Elizabeth served in WWII as a truck mechanic. Check out this historic footage.

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies & ARCs provided by publishers.


  1. I've suggest the Dress Like a Girl title to the SFPL and put the other on hold. Thanks for the fun recs!

  2. I really like Dress Like A Girl and am excited to find this second book. LaDeeDa sounds like a character I'd like to meet.

  3. I have of these books on my list for a great niece! I love this book. Love how both booth encourage individuality and dreaming big. Love the name LaDeeDa.