Just Imagine

The Restless Girls

Authored by Jessie Burton
Illustrated by Angela Barrett
Published by Bloomsbury

A modern twist on The Brothers Grimm’s story of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses.’ 

Kalia is a beautiful country and is the home to twelve princesses, all of whom have their own individual talents. Unfortunately, ‘Girls in Kalia, whether they were princesses or not, had never been considered very important.’ The twelve sisters draw on all of their skills, wits and imagination to overcome barriers and endeavour to live the lives they have so far only been able to dreamt of.

All the features of traditional stories can be found within this tale, from talking animals and magical settings, to kings and castles, princesses and potions. The author’s voice cleverly engages directly with the reader to draw them into the story, bringing traditional themes into the modern world.

Younger readers will be captivated by the beautiful illustrations and creative descriptions of the magical moonlit walks through the mystical forests, while older readers will identify with the bond of sisterhood and girl power!

I would use this story across both Key Stage One and Two, to teach traditional tales and how traditional tales can be adapted for the modern reader. There are also many opportunities to use the messages of feminism within this story to prompt discussions of fairness and equality.

The engaging style of writing will appeal to children who want to read a traditional tale for pleasure as well as to teachers who want a short story to read to the class.