Fairy tales have always been an immense love of mine and I’ve read them from the time that I was little. But the truth is that many fairy tales are very geared toward the damsel in distress trope that doesn’t really feature young girls as advocates and fighters for themselves. Many of the tales I grew up reading were about knights saving princesses or men fighting men to win the privilege of marrying them. And let’s be honest, that’s not always the best image to put in the heads of young girls. Well, for all of you who have lamented in the past, and perhaps continue to, about the lack of strong women in fairy tales we now have Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri and illustrated by Khoa Lee.
I loved reading this book. From the stories collected for all the young girls out there to the beautiful illustrations there was so much to enjoy. The tales chosen are from all over the world, featuring places like Greece and China to Romania and Poland. Each and every one of the tales features a strong woman, many who are incredibly strong fighters. And it was beautiful.
Of course, many of the stories continue some of the same fairy tale tropes that I’m sure readers will recognize. One theme in particular that was pretty prominent–and is in most fairy tales–is the theme of marriage. While I wasn’t particularly annoyed at this inclusion, I do think that I would love to see more fairy tales that don’t result in the hero sort of “winning” their partner. In fact, not all heroes even need to have a partner in the first place. Several of the stories included in this collection involve the female character now saving her fellow* in distress.
All in all, there is so much to appreciate about this book. And while I will still treasure regular fairy tales–whilst also recognizing the problems within them–I am truly thrilled to have an opportunity to put a book of fairy tales on my shelf that is geared toward portraying incredibly strong women from all kinds of cultures. I would highly recommend giving this book a read.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
*As a small aside, I find it rather annoying we don’t have an alternate for the word damsel. All the dictionary gave me for antonyms was the word “man.”