Disney Gift Books for Girls
I may have a few, slight political qualms, but the upside to having a niece going through the “princess phase” means it’s easy to find books for her about subjects she’s interested in. These are targeted a little older than she is, but I like giving her something to aim for that she’s interested in, as well as anticipating reading them with her.
Disney Press, $12.99 US, Ages 6-8
This storybook has the fun of letters included that can be opened and read. Cinderella, Merida, Ariel, Tiana, Belle, and Rapunzel each get a missive, and they respond in verse. Except for Cinderella, they’re all my favorites, as the more modern misses.
The letters cover a variety of situations, each suited to the particular princess, and in some cases, they’re quite clever. The cover is embossed, with glitter on each of the letters shown there.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to open the flaps to see the messages without tearing them at the edges. Thankfully, the text is on the center page, so even if the flaps tear completely off, the content will still be present. Still, not a book for someone precious about preventing damage, and certainly not something that will last for decades (like some of my favorite children’s books).
The book ends with a letter to the reader, a lovely concept. I look forward to the surprises this volume will bring to my niece.
A Merry Christmas Cookbook
Disney Press, $10.99 US, Ages 6-8
Recipes by Cristina Garces
This one isn’t explicitly princesses, for a change of pace, and the connections between the characters and their dishes can be a little strained, although the food seems tasty enough. For instance, I want to try “Sleepy’s Early-Riser Egg Biscuits”, which put cheese, egg, and bacon into refrigerated biscuit dough cups, but I’m not sure it says “Snow White and the Dwarfs” to me. The spotted pancakes have more in common with a dalmatian puppy. For a fan, though, calling a dish “Elsa’s Snowy Mac & Cheese”, with an accompanying small illustration of the two sisters from Frozen, will be all that’s needed to fire the imagination. (That recipe also adds some cauliflower for nutritional value.)
The 26 recipes are rated on a five-gingerbread-man scale from easy to hard, to give new cooks hints as to where to start. They’re organized by Breakfast (most 3 on the difficulty scale), Lunch (mostly 4s), Dinner (a variety), Sides and Drinks (mostly the easiest), and Dessert (also easy, with the exception of “Simba’s Muddy Brownies”, topped with gummy worms).
Many of them have tips on how to customize the recipes to keep them fresh, by adding alternative ingredients or adjusting to taste. Four of the recipes have additional notes on how to make them into gift jars, and there are punch-out tags to attach in the back of the book.
It’s not all princesses — there are “Monster-O’s Spiced Breakfast Bars” (for Mike and Sulley), “Woody’s Cowboy Chili” (of course), “Lady and the Tramp Zucchini Spaghetti & Meatballs” (just like the movie, except for the pasta becoming a vegetable), “To Infinity and Beyond Meat Loaf” (shaped like rocketships), “Wreck-It Ralph’s Smashed Potatoes” (love this recipe!), “Stitch’s Hawaiian Eggnog” (with cream of coconut and pineapple juice), and weirdly (how do cars cook?), “Lightning McQueen’s Pot Pie”.
Disney Princess Enchanted Character Guide
by Beth Landis Hester and Catherine Saunders
DK Children, $16.99 US
This one, on the other hand, is all about the girls, from the sparkly cover to the contents, arranged by princess. It’s heavily illustrated, with large text, aimed at ages 7-11.
Kids who want to spend more time with favorite characters and movies should love finding out more details and the feeling of building knowledge and organization skills. Personally, I’m looking forward to having my memory jogged as to just who all these people are, including the names of Rapunzel’s chameleon and Merida’s brothers (Pascal, Hamish, Harris, and Hubert).