Being a princess is not all ball gowns and tiaras! These biographies and informational books tell about the lives of real princesses throughout history and around the world, including the downside of wearing the crown.
The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich, Scholastic, 2015.
Summary - Norwich provides biographical information and images of over 25 real-life princesses from many different cultures and time periods, including achievements, interesting facts, and history.
Librarian Review - This little book is packed with real-life princesses and information, with an attractive layout and lots of pictures. Best of all is the diversity represented with princesses from many cultures, ethnicities, and skin colors. A great book for the royalty-obsessed. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Professional Review - "However, while the book does a wonderful job of sharing the stories of these popular royals, it's Norwich's focus on lesser known royals like Victoria Ka'iulani of Hawaii, which makes the book truly worth it. It's informative not-often studied history, that will undoubtedly make readers want to dig further and read more. Final verdict: The Real Princess Diaries is a fantastic introduction for young readers into the world of royalty, and the lives of some of the accomplished reigning royals." - The Reading Nook
Who Was Princess Diana?, written by Ellen Lebrecque, illustrated by Jerry Hoare, Penguin, 2017.
Summary - This transitional chapter book series provides the next step up from picture book biographies. The text is written with a lightly larger font and accompanied by pen & ink line drawings based on previously published photos and video.
Librarian Review - Children's librarians everywhere know just how hugely popular this series is with elementary-aged kids, sparking a renewed interest in the lives of others and filling a needed gap. A great way to combine informational and leisure reading and learn about one of the best known and widely loved contemporary princesses. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Professional Review - Professional reviews of this particular book could not be found, but the School Library Journal review of one of the first books of the series from 2002 was not particularly favorable, finding fault especially with the now iconic book covers and illustrations, "Unfortunately, the black-and-white illustrations are dreadful. The cover borders on caricature and does nothing to invite interest...". This is a case where the professional reviewer got it wrong, as this series is immediately recognizable and hugely popular with kids, in large part due to the cover art.
*This series also has books on Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth
Hatshepsut: The Princess Who Became King by Ellen Galford, National Geographic, 2005.
Summary - The books tells the story of Hatshepsut, including a great deal of information about life in Egypt at the time, with many photos and other visual elements, including timelines. The book is complete with glossary, bibliography, and index.
Librarian Review - This is a very attractive and informative book with many images suitable for research or casual reading. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Professional Review - "Handsomely designed... Libraries owning either of those titles can rely on them to provide basic information." - Ann Brouse, School Library Journal
The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawai'i, written by Fay Stanley and illustrated by Diane Stanley, Simon & Schustser, 1991.
Summary - This illustrated biography tells the story of the last Hawaiian princess and how the rule of the Hawaiian royal family came to an end.
Librarian Review - The mother and daughter team beautifully portray the sad story of the last princess of Hawaii with a straight-forward and accessible text and beautiful full-page gouache paintings. The notes on the Hawaiian language and bibliography are a nice touch and add authenticity to the story. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Professional Review - "As with Stanley's other biographies, readers are transported into another very believable world. The full page paintings are stunning, reflecting the beauty of the islands and the handsome, racially mixed people who live there. Although her style evolves and adapts somewhat to her material, the book has an unmistakably Stanley look. A helpful note on the Hawaiian language and an extensive bibliography complete this visual treat." - Ann Stell, School Library Journal
Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca by Deborah Kogan Ray, Farrar, Straus and Giroux , 2012.
Summary - Sarah Winnemucca was the granddaughter of the chief of the Norther Paiute tribe, who recognized her ear for language and sent her to be educated so she could become fluent in spoken and written English. The book tells the story of how Sarah became a spokesperson and fierce advocate for her people
Librarian Review - A beautifully illustrated story that provides a much needed native perspective of the settlement of the west. Ray's chalk drawings are richly colored and complemented with photographs of artifacts and maps, and the text is supplemented with excerpt of Sarah's own writings. The story is completed and supported by the author's end notes, timeline, and bibliography. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Professional Review - "An essential purchase, providing a new perspective on westward expansion and insight into the life of an inspiring but little-known civil rights crusader." - Kate Hewitt, School Library Journal, starred review
“Powerful language and blazing orange, earth, and jewel-toned chalk drawings create a stirring testament to one individual's conviction.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
Ye Castle Stinketh: Could You Survive Living in a Castle?, written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Gerald Kelley, English Pub Inc., 2011.
Summary - An irreverently informative book about life in a medieval castle.
Librarian Review - The bright, cartoonish illustrations, colorful headings, and humorous take on the unpleasantries of medieval castly life make this an engaging, entertaining, and informative book. Complete with glossary, additional reading, and index. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Professional Review - "A colorful, wacky take on a pleasurably unpleasant topic." - Daniel Kraus, Booklist, 2012 Top 10 Non-Fiction Series (youth)