title: The diary of B. B. Bright Possible Princess
illustrator: Shadra Strickland
date: Turner Books; September, 2012
main character: B.B. Bright
reading level: 3.0
B.B. Bright is an orphan girl who lives on an island with her three godmommies. As she faces her thirteenth birthday, she begins to realize that she wants more than the protection of the island. She wants to meet boys, wear stylish clothes and have friends. But, to get off the island, she must pass the princess test. As she writes in her diary, we learn what her preparation requires.
No doubt, this book has a slow start. I thought I was going to be stuck in the world or preteen angst as scenes of complaints lasted just a bit too long. I am so glad I didn’t let that deter me from continuing to read. I was quickly lost in B.B.’s fantasy world which was framed in an expert use of language, crafted in master storytelling techniques and decorated with darling drawings. The authors took care to define each character and to underline their uniqueness, an essential element in the story’s message. Readers who may not even have ever wanted to be a princess will realize the everyday, the ordinary specialness in princesses and indeed in themselves. Being a princess here is more a euphemism for being a woman than for living on a glass pedestal.
In writing this story with its positive messages, Randall and Williams use this brilliant young black girl to show all girls their potentials. Both women (who are mother and daughter) are accomplished writers in their own right and this is their first published novel collaboration. Tomorrow, I’ll have post a recent interview with them.
Handcrafted quilts play an important role in this story. In fact, when I saw the octagon that B.B. drew, I
thought about octagonal quilt pieces. I would invite young girls who read this book to stitch an octagonal block and to either write or embroider one facet of their personality on each of the eight sides of the piece. Backs can be sown onto the individual quilt squares or they can be sown together to create a group quilt. What did B.B. see in herself? What do you see in you?