Princesses Break Free by Timothy Knapman Review

Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie

Princesses Break Free

Books are a wonderful thing, they educate, entertain and can even empower readers. But are there such things as books for different genders?

No, not really. Books are a collection of words expertly selected and arranged to tell an interesting story and that can be read and enjoyed by anybody. Some may be of more interest to some than others but at the end of the day books featuring unicorns and princesses can be read by boys as well as girls, the same as adventure stories featuring pirates and space rockets can be read and enjoyed by girls as well as boys. The problem is that from a very young age we are indoctrinated into what type of books we should be reading, what books are for boys and what books are for girls – whether by our parents/carers or even other children or by bias within the books. Kids need to reading books with good role models and books aimed at boys all feature boys doing exciting and wonderful things and going on fabulous adventures whilst books deemed to be for girls feature unicorns and princesses that most of the time are just not as exciting. “Boy books” tend to feature a lot of blue whilst the “girl books” feature lots of pink to try and reinforce gender stereotypes.

Things are slowly changing, just look at football where England Women have just won Euro 2022 – inspiring girls to play football and letting everybody know, girls and boys, that kicking a ball around isn’t just a game for the boys and girls can play just as well. The same is happening within books. As children learn an awful lot from their reading materials why do so many books aimed at girls featuring princesses that sit around waiting for a prince to save them whilst books deemed suitable for boys feature boys that go off on all sorts of interesting and exciting adventures? Well, it’s all change in Princesses Break Free, written by Timothy Knapman with illustrations by Jenny Løvlie, in a really cool, exciting, fun and thrilling adventure which changes the rules as well as reinforcing positive representation and breaking gender stereotypes.

Princesses Break Free features a female protagonist, a young princess that isn’t going to sit around waiting to be saved or rescued by a prince. It starts the way most fairy tales featuring princesses do – when the princesses are carried off by evil dragons, eating poisoned apples or locked up in a tower, they wait for the prince to rescue them and live happily ever after. The End. But that is not the end of this story, it is just the beginning. The heroine of this story, Princess Tilly, finds those stories all rather boring – she doesn’t see why the princesses should sit around doing nothing but waiting for someone to help them out when they are quite capable of doing things for themselves. Princess Tilly is certainly no damsel in distress! She is too busy living her life and doesn’t have time to sit around waiting for someone to help her – when she is captured by a dragon, she rescues herself. When put in prison by her fairy godmother, she rescues herself. And when she finds another princess is locked up in a tower awaiting her prince, Princess Tilly encourages her to take control and rescue herself. By taking charge of her own life and destiny and helping other princesses do the same, the dragons, evil queens and even the princes all have nothing to do and use their newfound freedom to try other things, doing what they want to do rather than what is expected of them and really start to enjoy themselves.

Overall, Princesses Break Free is an excellent modern fairy tale that has been twisted, turned on its head and updated for the twenty-first century. It is packed with humour, adventure and positive messages and is the perfect story for children to be reading and learning from, breaking typical gender stereotypes and inspiring its young readers whilst at the same time being a fun and engaging story.

Children (along with their adult reading partners) reading Princesses Break Free will read about a young girl who is not conforming to stereotypes. They will read a story featuring a positive role model who is doing things for herself, being in control of her own life and doing what she wants to do without barriers, whether that’s escaping dragons with a pair of giant knickers, leaping from towers, scaling mountains and exploring jungles or even having mushy pie fights. This book introduces readers to Princess Tilly – a strong, defiant and confident young girl that is not going to let anyone control her life and she will be the one to take control of her own destiny whilst inspiring others to do the same. A story that mashes the typical “boys” adventure stories with the typical “girls” fluffy princess stories, creating a fantastic inspirational story that girls and boys will enjoy reading and definitely one where girls will definitely have a much more representative role model than the standard princess picture books.

Princesses Break Free is a humorous adventure story with lots of energy and fun. It teaches young readers that girls don’t have to rely on others for help and that they are perfectly capable of doing things for themselves. It is an inspirational book that encourages motivation, self-awareness and not to let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because of your gender.

Whilst it is an excellent positively engaging and motivating story it has some brilliant and colourful illustrations, without overusing the colour pink, by Jenny Løvlie that help bring Timothy Knapman’s words to life and helps young readers visualise the tale and the humour of the strong and adventurous Princess Tilly.

Whilst Princess Tilly might find generic fairy tales boring, she smashes the mould and Princess Break Free is anything but. In fact, it is truly inspirational, motivating and lots of fun! A children’s picture book with an excellent message for your own little princesses … or princes (just because a girl is the main character doesn’t mean that boys won’t enjoy this action-packed adventure story).

Princesses Break Free is definitely an easy 5* book for all children. The story and the messages that it delivers ensures that young readers will be able to take lots of very positive inspiration from. It challenges stereotypes in a really positive way with a strong female role model and is an excellent way of introducing the topic of gender equality and being your own person to young readers as well as providing young girls with a positive role model that they can relate to (kids just love to see characters that are representative of themselves in books).

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £12.99 (Hardback)

For more information visit www.walker.co.uk or www.timothyknapman.co.uk. Available to buy from Amazon here.

DISCLOSURE: We received this product for free for the purpose of writing an honest and impartial review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. This review uses an affiliate link which we may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the link.
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