Rejected Princesses does not come in a bright pink package (not that there’s anything wrong with pink). The cover features a broken mirror with a crown in it and boasts of “History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics.” Do we have you attention now? Jason Porath began his website Rejected Princesses after a conversation during his job at Dreamworks where he worked as an animator. A few coworkers were talking and after a foruitous Facebook post, Porath began combing story after story of some of the most amazing women ever to grace this earth, or the pages of fiction. In his new book of the same name, Porath tells the stories of some famous, and not so famous women in history. All of these women lived lives that would not make for big musical numbers in a Disney film, and they are all fascinating.
Porath’s book includes a few features I wish more collections would offer. He has both a rating system for the level of maturity, as well as a list of possible triggers for each section. This makes it really easy if you want to read some entries to younger or more sensitive readers, without crossing into questionable territory. Some passages, such as the section on Elizabeth Bathory, have a whole mess of indicators. These are the tales you save until the kids are in high school. The book is careful to include some tales where good triumphs over evil in a black and white kind of way, but the majority are women who lived lives in the grey areas where they did not conform to cultural norms or expectations. This makes them world changers. Porath is also incredibly careful to include women of different cultures and faiths. In other words, this is not a collection of the same 5 culturally approved stories we see over and over again. Each passage also includes an illustration that ties into the history of the woman in question.
Not to give too much away, but Porath includes women like the Night Witches; Russian female pilots that became the scourge of the Nazis for their late night raids. Incredible painter Artemisia Gentileschi follows Boudica. Olga of Kiev and Tomoe Gozen are both represented for their warrior spirits. If you want women that aren’t the same stories you’ve heard time and again, this is definitely the book to have on your shelf. Rejected Princesses makes for a great jumping off place for further research. While Porath does a heck of a lot of research, he also cautions that history can change as new information is discovered.
If the reader in your family is looking for something a bit more offbeat, you aren’t scared of a little controversy, or you just want to know a bit more about some of the baddest women of all time, Rejected Princesses is most definitely the book you need to pick up.
Rejected Princesses is now available from Dey St. Publishing.