Manjula Padmanabhan's Unprincess is as feisty as its back cover suggests it to be. This petit book is a collection of three short stories, each centring around an “un”princess who smashes all traditional, patriarchal, quintessential idea/s of ball gown-wearing, waiting-for-Prince-Charming, swooning-and-screaming damsels in distresses. Unprincess Kavita from “The Giant and the Unprincess”, “Sweet Fantasy”'s indomitable Sayoni, and Urmila the Ultimate from “Urmila the Ultimate” prove that girls do not necessarily have to be royal and/or married to royalty to solve their problem/s, that a “damsel in distress” can take care of herself (as well as others). Unprincess has every appearance of being a children's book – with its rather small size, Ms Padmanabhan's quirky cover and illustrations; but a reader will only have to reach the second page to realise that it is as much a children's book as Gulliver's Travels or Haroun and the Sea of Stories is! Its multi-layered messages make this book a perfectly light summer read for readers aged 6 to 106. Last but not least, Padmanabhan's illustrations may fill readers with an urge to colour the lovely, lively cartoons of Unprincess; so, keeping a box of colouring pencils handy is highly recommended for those relishing this book!
T S Marin teaches English at Primeasia University and enjoys writing flash fiction.