Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

My Princess Boy, published by Aladdin (Simon & Schuster) in Dec. 2010

Author: Cheryl Kilodavis
Illustrator: Suzanne DeSimone

My 24 year-old daughter suggested that I read My Princess Boy, as she had heard a lot about it, including some very divergent opinions of the rightness of letting a young boy dress in "girl clothes". While it is slightly scary taking on a controversial topic in a new review blog, my goal of emphasizing diversity and acceptance here at My Comfy Chair made this a must-read.

For those who have not heard of My Princess Boy, it is a non-fiction picture book about the author's four-year-old son who likes to dress in pretty dresses and pink and sparkles.

I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster, and dropped everything to see how this topic might be handled. I was nervous. What if I liked the way the story was handled, but didn't like the book itself? What if I objected to the tone, but thought the intent was good.

I needn't have worried. I read the book through, and liked it, but realized after I finished that I was still thinking too much about the reaction and not enough about the story. I started again, but this time soaking up the story and the flow and the illustrations. This time, I liked it even more. I read it to one of my cats, Pandora. My cats often have to sit in as listeners when I don't have a small child around.

This time, I fell in love with it. The message is one I have always believed, that there are plenty of people in the world who will judge your children and tell them what they can't do or be. As a parent, you have a chance to tell them that they can do or be anything, but especially themselves. Cherl Kilodavis freely acknowledges in interviews (which I watched after I finished the book) that she had her doubts and worries when her son started to dress in frilly dresses and dance around, but she overcame them. She realized that her son was who he was, and loved beautiful things. She stopped describing them as "girl things" and focuses on how they are "pretty things", and it makes all the difference.

To bolster this idea, Suzanne DeSimone took an unusual approach in leaving the faces without eyes or mouths or other features. While this may sound distancing, it makes the people us, without specific races or genders. I had a little trouble when I first opened the book, but I think it was a very creative way of making this a book about all of us and all our children. After a few pages, you don't see the approach, but simply the engaging characters.

I can't wait until it is my turn to teach Sunday school next, as I definitely want to share this with my pre-schoolers, many of whom dress up without much regard to "boy things" or "girl things". I think they will like the story, but I think their parents and older siblings need to hear it as well.

I heartily recommend this for children and families, for libraries and for classrooms.

Five Stars!

Find 'My Princess Boy' on
Find 'My Princess Boy' on


  1. I've never heard of this book but it sounds awesome. It's good to see that people are telling stories like this to show there are others out there who have this situation and it's not a bad thing. I will be putting this book on my list of must haves.

  2. I'd never heard of it before my daughter mentioned it, but I'm glad she did, and I'm glad I could let you know as well.

  3. As a mom of sons, I think this sounds like a very enlightening book! Thanks for sharing your review. :o)

  4. Isn't it a terrific thing when the message & tone both "work"?

    We need more books with boys loving pink & princesses where it's not even the topic, just the character. Next up!

    So enjoyed reading your take on the book. I do periodically bring picture/children's books into my blog posts (mom of four, too tempting not to). I love writing about books.

  5. One of my sons used to like playing with Polly Pocket. None of the adults in his life objected, but his playmates teased him until I wondered whether it might not have been better to discourage the whole thing in the first place. There seems to be a time around the age of 4 or 5 when gender-bending play goes from okay to not-okay in the eyes of most kids.

  6. I have watched it in the Sunday school where I teach. The 4 year-olds are pretty much okay with some switching, but the older ones or ones with older brothers start to tease.

    Some of this is also societal. When I was growing up, there were toys for boys and toys for girls, but many toys for both. That has been shifting toward gender specificity ever since, as far as I can tell.

  7. I have three sons, an easy bake oven, and one whose favorite color was pink (when he was little - he thought it was "unique" and he's right). They also love legos, explosions, and cats. I've always made sure to treasure them for the unique people they are, and thankfully, so have all the important people around them. I about burst with pride when my then-4-year-old boycotted a "keep out the girls" game at preschool, preferring to side with the girls in the kitchen area, with the baby dolls. He doesn't even like dolls, but he knew injustice when he saw it.

    Thanks for bringing this great book to my attention!

  8. I've been watching this story and cheering it on. I haven't read the book but thank you for picking it up in your reviews and giving both the book and its topic such a well considered and balanced exposure.