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Not Your Mama's Princesses

Photo courtesy of Guardian Princesses Website

For generations, young girls have grown up reading magical princess stories, like "Cinderella" or "Snow White," that detail the lives of beautiful women dressed in the finest gowns and the shiniest slippers attending elegant balls before they are rescued by the most handsome princes in the land; then they marry them and live happily ever after. But author Setsu Shigematsu has written a new kind of story that breaks all these rules.

Shigematsu, a University of California, Riverside, media and cultural studies professor, has created and self published the "Guardian Princesses," a line of books about heroines who are independent, multi-ethnic and protect different aspects of nature, such as the Earth, sea, skies and animals. And most notably, they don't depend on a man or prince to save them.

Shigematsu developed the idea of the "Guardian Princesses" when she decided to create a different version of the classic stories for her daughter on her fifth birthday.

"The kids really enjoyed it," Shigematsu says. "But what was really surprising was the way the parents responded."

When asked to describe their idea of princesses, young girls who visited Shigematsu's house for an informal reading could only comment on what princesses look like.

"I think of princesses that have long hair," one child responded. Other children mentioned colorful dresses and pretty shoes. Shigematsu is determined to break these stereotypes and give girls something more positive to inspire them.

Shigematsu has designed the books to be fun and visually appealing, but she also wants them to help teach the sciences and moral and ethical principles.

The three "Guardian Princesses" books: Princess Terra and King Abaddon, Princess Vinnea and The Gulavores and Princess Mariana and Lixo Island are now available for purchase on Amazon and the official "Guardian Princesses" website.