The Princess And The Pony
by Kate Beaton
“It’s funny,” said a friend of mine the other day, talking about her two daughters. “We gave them both all the same toys. They had the same clothes. One had no interest in princess stuff, but the other can’t get enough. I don’t think we ever gave her anything to foster it, it’s just what she went for.”
This comment resonated with me. When I was little, I drew princess after princess, and I loved them. I don’t remember anyone telling me I should, even though it’s surely true that children (little girls especially) are heavily marketed at, now more than ever. So when I sat down to write a picture book, I wondered, Should it be about a princess? When I thought about it as a grown-up, I felt like, “I don’t know…” But when I asked my four-year-old self that question, the answer was, breathlessly, “YES!”
I decided that I did want to tune into that little version of myself, who loved princess stories very much indeed. I think that princesses, as an archetype, are people who are both young and have the power to make choices — more power than a lot of other people that kids can imagine themselves to be. Why wouldn’t you want to have that kind of autonomy, and the ear of anyone you wished, and the right to make decisions? And maybe, just maybe, a pony? (I’ll admit, the pony was always a pretty good perk, as far as the princess inventory went. “Yes, children, you can have it all! AND on top of this, a pony!” Who would say no?)
So in The Princess and the Pony, Princess Pinecone is a brave little girl who loves her family and has big dreams for herself that she’s going to follow: She wants to be a warrior! Her name is a floral name of the type that princesses often have, but a little bit pricklier. She lives in a rough and tumble world, but she jumps right in to claim her part in it and win the day. It’s a book about love and confidence, and the nice things that we do for our friends and loved ones to make the world a happier place — even a world full of warriors, who love nothing more than getting in giant, rollicking battles with one another.
I chose a princess because I loved them when I was little. But I still wrote a story about a little girl, with little kid dreams and little kid problems. I think a small version of myself would choose The Princess and the Pony, have a big laugh, and dream a big dream. I hope the little ones out there now do the same.
Kate Beaton is the author of Hark! A Vagrant, her #1 New York Times bestselling collection of comics which began as a webcomic in 2007. The Princess and the Pony is her first picture book. She is the recipient of multiple Harvey awards, and her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Best American Comics Anthology. Kate lives in Toronto, and you can find her online at www.beatontown.com and on Twitter as @beatonna.