arts & music

Northern Princess: Writing a New Kid’s Book

by Amber — July 2, 2021
Illustration inside of Northern Princess. A girl looking up at 3 flying Canadian geese

Writing this book for all kids, Northern Princess, with a message to share and an idea that touches my heart.

It feels like ages ago I read an article about a Father who would enjoy tea parties with his daughter and teach her that being a Princess was more than wearing pink party dresses and glittery crowns. I loved his approach, a lot… it stuck with me… actually it’s still with me and I hope it never loosens.

His idea was that the princess phase is an opportunity to teach your child about ruling a kingdom. He would talk to his daughter about solving problems, about being compassionate and fair. In their house being pink and glittery was not the costume of a damsel in distress looking for her prince, it was the wardrobe of a leader.

I saw his point of view as an opportunity to have a great discussion with my daughter, but also saw it as a writing opportunity. Sticking this idea in my brain bank, I carried on with other projects.

Two summers ago, the one before the pandemic, I was at my parent’s cottage. The kids were tucked into bed and I was in-between reading materials. It was time to explore this princess story.

Sometimes, when I write, my first draft can be more of a ‘he said, she said’ and ‘this happened and then that happened’ kind of story. Northern Princess was no different. I knew I wanted it to be set in the North and to explore our community. The princess in this story is in full fluffy regalia exploring her town, feasting at the Farmer’s Market, and settling disputes on the playground, etc. But in the end it, unfortunately, was more like a tourist brochure than a children’s story. A big sigh and time to open a new, blank document.

Deep breath and tapping into the voice, the one I really write with, I unintentionally narrowed down the scope of my story. Letting my heart speak, I added leggings under her dress and a toque under her crown. Instead of exploring the city, she set out to explore the trail – the one in my backyard. Along her journey she battles, problem solves, adventures, and makes friends who celebrate her wisdom and bravery. 

Rather than hitting my audience over the head with my message, I described a strong, smart, and kind girl. One who looks a whole lot like the children who live here in the North… and a lot of other places too. I had written a story that led by example. One that I believe will inspire the children who read it to have their own adventures, and to lead with kindness. 

Now, fast forward a year, I have my finished story in hand. My illustrator is working on the visuals and I stumble across a Tumblr article by Shannon Hale, who writes Princess in Black, talking about adults, boys and even girls, believing that princess stories are just for girls. She talks about how it’s become acceptable for girls to read 100% of the books the world has to offer, but boys only have access to 50%. If there is a girl hero in the story, it is a girl’s book… which Shannon Hale is fighting against. My perspective has changed, just a little, I boldly keep the title Northern Princess, knowing that at least 50% of population won’t purchase this for the little men in their lives… but challenging them to see past the title. 

Time will tell, if I’ve made the right choice. But I believe my princess story is a story all children will enjoy. I’m still sorting out a few final details before I have hard copies in hand, so for now, the book is available online on Amazon and will arrive on other digital platforms in the coming weeks. 

Find Northern Princess on Amazon:

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The book cover of Northern Princess

Follow this link for Amber’s first illustrated children’s book!

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