The Princess Knight (Cornelia Funke)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Princess Knight, written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer, a classic tale of girl-power.

When Princess Violetta’s mother dies in childbirth, her father knows no other way to raise his daughter than just the same as her three older brothers; the princess is trained to fight, joust, and ride a horse. Vi is smaller than her brothers and struggles with the physical demands, much to her macho brothers’ amusement (and teasing). So the determined princess sneaks out at knight, practicing endlessly and learning how to adapt the skills to her own strengths, speed and agility. Her fierceness and capability earns her the admiration of her brothers, until her father declares that a jousting tournament will be held on her 16th birthday… with her hand in marriage as prize! Vi is furious, and concocts a plan to ensure that if anyone is going to win her hand, it’s HER.

Awesome. A perfect twist on the classic fairytale storyline that gives the beautiful princess agency over her own happily-ever-after. In particular, I like that none of the characters in the story are truly villains, only uninformed – until Vi proves them wrong, at which point they realize their mistakes and become allies. It also encourages princesses to find their own strengths and lean into them; they may not always be the biggest, but they CAN be the fastest or cleverest. The dainty illustrations fit the storybook setting perfectly, while still allowing for personalities to shine. One note: Vi’s mother’s death in childbirth is depicted, with the infant Vi being held next to her late mother; it’s not scary or gruesome, but may be tough to explain to younger readers. Otherwise, the length was great, and JJ loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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