Jocelyn Koehler grew up in the wilds of Wisconsin, but now lives in a tiny house in Philadelphia that is filled with books, tea things, and places to read, sleep and write. She has worked as a librarian, bookseller, editor, archivist, cubicle drone, popcorn popper, and music store clerk. While early exposure to Disneyland sparked her interest in fairy tales, it was the discovery of the original Grimm stories and other folktales from around the world that captured her imagination. If you want to learn more about her original fairy tales and other work, you can see it at her publisher's site: www.hammer-birch.com. Want to talk books? Friend her on Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter, where she's @jocelynk414. Interested in winning a free ebook copy of Jocelyn's new fairy tale collection? To enter, all you have to do is sign up for her (very occasional) newsletter at is.gd/JKnews. Everyone on the list as of the last day of Fairytale Fortnight will be eligible to win, and three randomly selected winners will be sent a copy of the ebook! Come back later on during Fairy Tale Fortnight to The Book Rat as Jocelyn stops back to talk about Philip Pullman's recent adaptation on the Brothers Grimm!
Battle Royale: Why Princess Jasmine will clean up in a Fairy Tale Fight by Jocelyn Koehler
In this time of March Madness, it seems appropriate to bracket our real sporting champions: fairy tale princesses. For them, all life is court life, and you don't hang up the crown when you leave the room. And like it or not, Division 1 of princessing means Walt Disney, which has done more than anyone beside the Grimms to popularize the notion of the fairy tale princess.
Like any dedicated lover of fairy tales, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each Disney Princess. Some would think that’s the same as picking your favorite, but those people are wrong. It’s a tough world out there, so if you ever are in the position to gain the powers of one Disney Princess, you’d better be prepared.
I'm confident enough to make this prediction: Jasmine would win. Would it be an easy victory? Probably not. There are a few other Disney-crafted ladies with skills out there, so let go through them quickly (Note: only canonical [Disney Princesses], according to the Walt Disney Company, are eligible to compete in this contest.)
Snow White: One of the youngest princesses at 14 years old. Cute hair, bubbly voice. A team player (if managing dwarfs counts). Allergic to poison apples. Not a bold beginning to the franchise. What’s she going to do? Warble us all to death? She was passive even before she was unconscious.
Cinderella:Blond and bland. Nice singing voice, and definitely one who takes orders well, but not a fighter. She only got to the dance because her fairy godmother grew her a pumpkin to get there! Otherwise, she would have stayed sobbing in the garden with the mice.
Aurora:Oy. Here’s a frustrating lass. Again with the singing and the woodland creatures! Now if her Prince Philip was in the ring, that might be a battle. Dude killed a dragon, after all. But you know what? He’s not in the ring. Aurora is, and she can’t stand up to a basic spinning wheel. So there.
Ariel: Great pipes, but Ariel is still kinda the Aquaman of Disney Princessland: really only useful when she's swimming with the fishes. And talk about a poor trade! She gave up her single best asset for standard-issue stems. Good thing her boyfriend is good with boats, because he was the one who actually killed the Big Bad. Ariel just got washed up.
Belle: Mmmm. Here’s a contender. She’s smart. Well-read. Ambitious to get out of small town fairyland and into the big time. But there's still something missing. She's not quite a woman of action, is she? I fear her bookish ways may be her undoing.
Pocahontas: She’s got great hair, no question, and she looks like she could throw down, at least until someone from the old world coughs too much. But here’s the problem. No one really looks intimidating with a raccoon in tow, even if she can paint with all the colors of the wind.
Mulan: She does have a pocket dragon, and that’s not nothin’. Further, she’s got the guts to cross-dress and fight like a man. That said, I'm not sure she's technically a princess. But she's definitely a top seed.
Tiana: Let’s assume she can fight in non-frog form. Tiana seems like a lovely person, but not someone who’d stack up well in a princess fight. She cooks. She cooks very well. But her drive for her dream seems limiting in some ways. In any other fight but a beignet-baking contest, I'm just not sure that she'd care enough to compete. In fact, she might be more competitive as a frog. Great jumper!
Rapunzel: Dang. Rapunzel really is our first ADHD princess. She's good with a frying pan, and certainly knows what she wants. But as her love interest noted, she seems a mite...unstable. Her best weapon is her ability to win a tough crowd over, but is that enough to beat my number one seed?
Jasmine: Her strengths are many and varied, and feel particularly suited to a Battle Royale. Here we go... Pants. This is a practical princess. She wears pants and hauls that mass of hair back into a ponytail. Clever girl. Now she can run, jump, kick, and ride magic carpets without getting caught up in her skirts. Snow White couldn’t even walk through a forest without hallucinating angry trees and getting snagged by twigs. Tiger. Other princesses have sidekicks and animal companions. Lotta little birds. Mice that sew. Amorous candelabra. A raccoon. But you know what they don’t have? A tiger. Rajah is seriously the best. Gigantic teeth, but absolutely supportive of Jasmine’s need for independence. He helps her over the wall with his head. That's a companion you can count on. Also, he knows how to bite to comic effect, not only scaring but also humiliating Jasmine's enemies. Good kitty!
Twisted. Several of our Disney princesses have been forced to be closer than they’d like to the villains of their stories. Belle had to endure an awkward marriage proposal by Gaston. Rapunzel had to get over an emotionally abusive "mother" and out of a tall tower. That's rough, no question. Getting [damseled] is just par for the course when you're a fairy tale princess. Jasmine experienced this too, when the genie had to hand her over to Jafar, who not only wanted her to be his slave, but also to change her brain. Ewww. But Jasmine had to think fast and trick Jafar into thinking she was besotted with him (and she sold it!), allowing her team to sneak into position and set up the final battle. Actually a Princess. Disney has been overly generous in granting some of these ladies tiaras. Yes, I get that some of them are virtual princesses. But some only attain their tiaras through marriage, like Cinderella, Tiana, and Belle, and others are only princesses in the sense that they are the daughters of the Guy In Charge (Pocahontas, or even Tiger Lily if you want to go non-canonical). I'm not even sure Mulan ever gets to be a legit princess. However, Jasmine started out as a princess and stays one at the end. She elevates the man to her level, not the other way around. The Wild Card: Leia
Now that Disney bought LucasFilm, some think Leia could be considered a Disney Princess. While she's not an official one, she deserves to be considered here. First, she is a princess (by adoption and sort of birth...does it matter that her mom was queen for a bit, and then senator? Naboo is a weird place.) Leia's space princess gown is one of the most practical designs I've seen, apart from the constantly-needs-to-be-laundered light color. And she's not shy with the blaster. Like Jasmine, she was put in the unenviable position of being scantily clad and stuck right next to a repugnant baddie. But Leia just kind of languished there until she could count on some other rescuers to get her out. Yes, choking Jabba in his sleep was pretty cold. But what was he gonna do, run? So while she's impressive, my money is still on Jasmine. Where does that leave us? With a lot of ripped dresses and tiaras scattered all over the floor. Personally, I think Mulan has the best chance against Jasmine, but it would be a tough fight. And did I mention that Rajah is a tiger? Would you want to fight a tiger? I didn't think so. So there you have it: my handicapping of a contest that will never come to pass. Am I missing something? Horribly wrong in my assessment? Oh, look, a comment thread! Fire away, but play nice.
Who would be left standing in the final fight? Jasmine vs. Mulan:
YouTube Link Jocelyn, this was so much fun to read! When I saw this YouTube fight between Jasmine and Mulan, I just had to add it in. It's too perfect not to! I also loved Josh McMahon's Disney Street Fighter mock-ups. Visit the talented illustrator's blog here! Jeftoon on DeviantART also had some great designs, though his gals looked a little more like zombies than then did street fighters!
Books by Jocelyn Koehler:
Title: THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS: Four Fairy Tales Author:Jocelyn Koehler
Release Date:Out May 1, 2012
Publisher:Hammer & Birch
The mythical land of the Nine Kingdoms lies far beyond our world, and perilously close to the borders of Faerie. Touching every kingdom, a vast forest holds secrets, marvels, and tales almost too strange to believe. THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS chronicles the first four of these stories, each a fairy tale less familiar than the ones you might remember. In ASHES, ASHES, a forlorn maid known simply as Cindrelle toils like a servant on her family estate. She is given a glimmer of hope for deliverance from her plight when an invitation to the Harvest Ball arrives. She has but three nights to find her freedom and win the prince's heart. But who is the prince? Is the dark mystery surrounding him worth her devotion? A king once had seven sons, and one daughter. The new Queen works her will to destroy the family, first by turning the sons into swans and then driving the daughter into the vast forest where danger always lurks. But fair Elise is determined to free her brothers. An encounter with the Faerie Queen gives her the clue to break the spell...if only she can keep silent while she weaves seven shirts of NETTLES. Fate, however, conspires against her. When winter comes to the Nine Kingdoms, it brings change to the lives of two sisters, each irreparably scarred by the "gifts" of three dwarfs in the wood. IN SILENCE AND IN SHADOW tells of the sisters' quest to end the curse. But to do so, they must trust two strangers: an inquisitive village priest and a blind man on a quest of his own. In THE GREEN FROG, the spoiled princess Una has everything she could desire. But when she drops her newest toy into the palace pond, a disgusting frog offers to get it back...for a price. She thinks it will be easy to get out the frog's ridiculous bargain, only to discover that breaking a promise has a higher cost than she ever imagined. Exiled into the dark forest that spreads throughout the Kingdoms, Una must first learn to survive before she can find a way out. Inspired by classic fairy tales, these stories give a new twist to tradition.