Have you heard about the ‘Disney princess effect’?
In a nutshell, it is how the Disney princesses impact young girls by subtly teaching them that their worth is based more on their physical appearance and less on their intelligence.
It leads girls into thinking that a girl’s main goal is to be rescued by a prince or to catch a ‘prince’ and please him regardless of her personal interests or ambitions.
To counterbalance the Disney effect, girls need examples of girls who are smart, girls who use their brains. Examples of girls who take charge, who lead out, who understand that she has an unlimited potential!
Nina the Neighborhood Ninja is a children’s picture book that provides that type of example!
On her way to play soccer, Nina sees a distressed baby bird. (Notice, she wasn’t playing with dolls.)
The bird had fallen from his nest. Problem: how to get him back in it? Nina has a creative to return him to his home. Successful rescue!
She is smart.
She is strong.
She is speedy.
Next, Nina sees a cat out in the rain. The cat is scared and needs protection! Nina figures out what to do to help the poor cat. Nina is smart, strong, and speedy!
Then, Nina sees something strange in the sandbox. Why, it’s turtles that are stranded on their backs! Nina to the rescue! She is smart. She is strong. She is speedy!
Her new friends want to show Nina their appreciation so they hold a party for her. Fun!
I like this book because it uses my name! I seldom see it used in books — or on fridge magnets, bookmarks, bracelets, or any type of souvenir-y type of things.
Nina is a role model of a female super hero — of someone to look up to and emulate. She shows that girls can think, solve problems, and do hard things.
I like the illustrations in the book. They are colorful and appealing. (I love how bedraggled Nina looks after getting soaked in the rain while rescuing the turtles.) I think that kids will enjoy the illustrations, too.
I like that Nina is not a blond hair, blue-eyed girl. That is so stereotypical for a character in a picture book. Nina is a girl of color and is a great super hero example for girls of diversity.
I like how the story repeats ‘she is smart, she is strong, she is speedy.’ That repetition provides transference and strengthens those ideas in the minds of those who read the book.
Nina the Neighborhood Ninja by Sonia Panigraphy provides a good role model for girls — a model that counterbalances the Disney effect of princesses. It shows that girls can do difficult things and that they can face obstacles and over come them.
I say that parents and grandparents should read this book over and over to their daughters and granddaughters! Let’s get that message into their heads!
Then, they should take things to the next step. They should encourage their daughters and granddaughters to use their brain, to develop critical thinking skills, to think creatively — and to be strong, smart, and speedy.
You can get a copy of Nina the Neighborhood Ninja on Amazon for $12.