The Princesses I Know, by Ayla Mae Wild (picture book)

April 28, 2014 Book Reviews 6 ★★★★½

The Princesses I Know, by Ayla Mae Wild (picture book)The Princesses I Know on December 6th 2013
Pages: 24
Purchase: Bookshop
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In this beautifully illustrated book, Ayla Mae Wild draws upon her own experiences leading wilderness trips, and creates a series of memorable princesses who overcome obstacles, fears and injury as they interact with the wild. Girls and boys alike will enjoy the adventures, from rock climbing and boating to hiking and exploring slot canyons. Beneath the surface story of these adventures is the underlying theme of self-rescue; the "princesses" in Wild's book do not stick around in high towers waiting for a prince. In one lovely illustration, we see a tower left vacant, a rope out the window, and we imagine the princess "on belay". From glitter as magic to rainbows to campfire ballet, 'The Princesses I Know' will delight, empower and inspire.

— Melanie Bishop, author of 'My So-Called Ruined Life'


If you’re looking for an empowering picture book for girls (or boys!), Ayla Mae Wild’s The Princesses I Know is a great place to start. The princesses in Wild’s book aren’t sitting around waiting for a prince; they’re out living their lives and having adventures. These are princesses “[w]ho are their own guide. Who seek adventure. Who rescue themselves.”

They’re also not princesses in the fairytale sense. Each vignette is based on one or more real young women whom Wild has met as a a wilderness trip leader. From hiking to climbing, boating to campfires, these princesses overcome real-life challenges and explore the natural world with grit and gusto.

Wild’s text is simple but evocative, and her whimsical watercolors, in the naive style, add to the book’s charm. The Princesses I Know would be a wonderful addition to any young girl’s or boy’s bookshelf.


Full disclosure: Author/illustrator Ayla Mae Wild was one of two leaders on a three-week wilderness (off-trail) backpacking trip my daughter took last summer — Robin’s first experience with backpacking and camping. (She describes the trip as “freakin’ awesome!”) If you read The Princesses I Know, Robin is the ballerina princess. In hiking boots. It’s because of  Robin that I even heard of this book, and I’m glad I did.  I’m already planning to give it to any little girls that may come along in my life.

The Princesses I Know is self-published through, and is available in paperback only.



6 Responses to “The Princesses I Know, by Ayla Mae Wild (picture book)”

  1. Bea

    I like the sound of this, seems like a good choice for my school. And congrats to Robin for being in the book!

  2. Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic

    This sounds like a wonderful book, Lark. I’m going to see about getting this book for one of my nieces. Thanks for a great review and how exciting that Robin is in the book!