One of my issues with princesses has always been this. The role is not a career aspiration. I live in an actual monarchy, where there really are princesses, and there is even a possibility of our daughters becoming one. But I think we can all agree it’s a fairly narrow life path to target.
I suppose it’s a more realistic aspiration than being a superhero, but at least most of them have real jobs as journalists, lawyers, wealthy industrialists, Amazon princesses… er, where was I…?
Anyway, of the many characters aimed at children, male ones tend to be the only ones tied to a profession. Think Postman Pat, or Fireman Sam. Female characters are far more likely to be more fantastical.
In a clever twist, tying the two together, is the Tara Binns series. Created by Lisa Rajan and illustrated by Eerika Omiyale, these books have the tagline of “Giving Little Girls Big Ideas”. The format of each tale involves our eponymous girl hero playing dress ups in her attic, and being magically transported into a fantasy (or is it?) involving the profession one of her outfits.
In Tara Binns – Eagle-Eyed Pilot, she suddenly becomes a jumbo jet pilot – in mid-flight – and quickly has to learn not only how the cockpit works, but also has to navigate a storm and wrestle with a moral dilemma involving old pirate treasure.
The next book is Tara Binns – Crash Test Genius, where she becomes an engineer who quickly learns how the application of science benefits us all, and is inspired to invent a new concept of her own.
Coming soon is Tara Binns – Double Choc Doc, where she has to deal with everyone’s winter nemesis – the common cold!
My 3-year-old daughter loves being read these books, and requests we revisit them regularly. She is full of questions about the professions themselves as well as the way Tara deals with the dilemmas and opportunities presented to her. She’ll often ask questions about them out of the blue, when we’re not even reading one. They have clearly made an impression, and an immensely positive one at that.
The prose is bright and snappy, and the illustrations whimsically delightful. Tara, as both herself and when she’s exploring her various professions, is a great role model. One that is thankfully a world away from fairy princesses.
These books would be terrific for any child – but parents of girls in particular may find these to be essential bookshelf additions.
Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive these books free of charge.