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Emberli Pridham
A Real Life Fairy Tale Princess Diana
Princess Diana: A Real-Life Fairy Tale is a picture book biography, introducing young children to the positive highlights of Princess Diana's impact on the world, from her childhood to her years as a princess and mother. At just under 700 words, the story opens with Diana Spencer as a spunky girl born in Norfolk, England to a noble family. We introduce her two sisters and younger brother and how she played with the royal children during her childhood. We follow along as her life changes when her father becomes an earl and Diana is formally called Lady Diana. Readers learn Lady Diana excelled in sports, dance, and music, and as she grows older, becomes fond of children. We see her courted by Queen Elizabeth's son, Prince Charles, and when he asks for her hand in marriage, igniting the historical royal wedding that is spoken of across the world as Lady Diana becomes Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales. As she fulfills her role as a mother of two princes, Princess Diana is determined to make a difference by leading with beauty and compassion, inspiring others with her empathy as she travels the world, helping those in need.
Telling the story of Princess Diana through the lens of a fairytale, Pridham (If Not You Then Who?) takes readers through a romanticized retelling of the life of the late Princess of Wales, from her Norfolk childhood of ballet and finishing school to an upbeat—and notably un-final—ending that alludes to her legacy of “love, patience, and grace” while avoiding her divorce and tragic death. Accompanied by pastel-hued watercolor illustrations tinged with nostalgia and optimism, A Real Life Fairy Tale Princess Diana presents a rosy version of this beloved figure’s tale, focusing heavily on positive aspects like her charity work and love for her children.

The writing style tends toward simple declarative rhyming that celebrates the Princess’s personality, legacy, and impact. Contemporary fairy tales tend to emphasize positivity, though this narrative goes so far as to elide the complexity of the princess’s life and relationship with the public, never acknowledging challenges and controversies she faced or the perseverance that so many loved in her. The book’s past-tense storytelling and avoidance of any fairytale happily-ever-after invites natural questions from young readers—like “what happened to her?”—that the text doesn’t answer.

Even so, A Real Life Fairy Tale Princess Diana can serve as an introduction to an inspiring historic figure who still has a place in people’s hearts. The possibility that people from our own times can also have lives that look like a fairytale is fun. This princess is kind, philanthropic, and a caring mother, laudable qualities in anyone, but especially in a princess, someone kids are predisposed to find fascinating and look up to. A Real Life Fairy Tale Princess Diana provides a dose of history in the form of a fairytale best suited for the most adamant of aspiring princesses or those who want to introduce their kids to a beloved real-life royal.

Takeaway: Princesses and young history fans will enjoy this fairytale retelling of Princess Diana’s life.

Great for fans of: Sara Presley’s Princess Diana for Kids, Susan Barnett Braun’s Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A-