Princess stuff that doesn’t depress me

Two items:

1) Vtech’s Disney Princess Magical Learning Laptop.

 

I’m torn as to how I feel about this laptop’s looks. On one hand, zoikes! Sensory overload! Tack-o-meter will self-destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2…. On the other, wow, that’s kind of fabulous. Why can’t adults’ laptops be heart-shaped? I wouldn’t mind a mousepad that looked like a big gem.

 

Nica (4) went gaga over the secret compartment (heart-shaped, bien sûr!) that you open with an attached key. Can you actually fit anything in it? Not much. Maybe a couple of small, flat objects. But this feature definitely appeals to that part of a little girl’s soul that relishes keeping secrets.

There are three major modes: Be a Princess, Princess Activities and Princess Explore. Within those three modes there are games or exercises. Most unfavorite feature: I cringe every time the perky narrator says “Do you dream about being a princess?” In my brain, that gets translated to “Are you a total airhead?” (This only happens when you first press the Be a Princess mode button—but Nica presses it A LOT.) Another annoying feature is the volume control. The designers of this laptop were kind enough to place the volume adjustment underneath the toy (so that your kid isn’t constantly messing with it), but the choices are basically Loud, Louder and Unbearably Loud.

But there are some very good features too. If you go to Princess Activities, you can choose a princess (Cinderella, Belle, Snow White or Aurora). Each princess presents three choices of exercises—letter order, number order, picture match, missing letter, counting, manners (learning appropriate greetings and such), etc. And then, if you choose Princess Aurora, the same voice that said “Do you dream about being a princess?” says “Answer the equation for Aurora.” Equation? Damn, Aurora, I guess you’re the valedictorian of the bunch. So, even though this laptop looks like it would only give you some dumbed-down versions of lessons, it really doesn’t. The lessons range in difficulty from basic letters and numbers (in Princess Explore) to addition and subtraction presented as equations (plus graphics to help out). And the Be a Princess mode mixes it up and gives you an assortment of mini-exercises.

2) This has got to be the ultimate princess sticker book: the Disney Princess Sticker Activity Pad with Play Scenes.

 

We love stickers around here. Had I gotten this when I was a kid, I would’ve swooned. It is awesome. Pages and pages of stickers, all the Disney princesses in different poses, different outfits, and, in Ariel’s case, different bodies (Ariel with a tail! Ariel with legs!). Plus all the supporting characters of all the princess films. The truly awesome part, though, is the blank play-scene pages. Each page shows a different set (the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast, the forest from Snow White, etc., etc.), and you can create your own unique scene using any stickers you want. Hours of fun. Perfect for Grandma’s house so that Grandma doesn’t have to run around, or when you need your little princess-worshiper to stay quiet for half an hour. Well, maybe not quiet. But occupied.

 

Book: Pinkalicious

Well, it’s about play. And with my kids, reading (or being read to) and playing are so entwined. Nica (4) uses a lot of what she hears/sees/reads in books as fodder for her imaginative play.

Not convinced? Well, there’s this, too:

OK, lady?

So. Pinkalicious. It’s obvious why this book is de rigueur among little girls. I mean, look at this cover.

Here we have almost all the stereotypical little-girl bait items: pink-pink-pink, cupcake (complete with cherry on top), fairy wings, wand (with frilly tassel), crown, fancy dress.

Why do little girls like pink so much? And how come they never, ever feel like, “Maybe this is too much pink”?

The protagonist of Pinkalicious is, I’m sorry to say, an insufferable brat. If that were my kid, pretty much the last thing I’d do is bake sugary desserts for her. Her little brother, too, seems like bad news.

The plot: Bratty girl disobeys her mother and ends up eating way too many pink cupcakes. Whatever evil food coloring the mom uses to make the cupcakes causes Bratty to turn pink all over. But Bratty revels in her pinkness and feels insanely beautiful. She disobeys her mother again, and the doctor, too, and ingests more pink cupcake. (Evidently, Mom is not a food waster, oh, no, and has set the cakes aside instead of throwing out the toxic batch.) This time, Bratty wakes up all red, which, unlike being all pink, is highly unattractive and therefore unacceptable. Bratty must eat green foods to combat the effects of this horrid food dye that really needs to be examined by the FDA. Even though she formerly said “yuck” to all green foods, her vanity finally allows her to get over her disgust.

I groan inside when the kids choose this book as their bedtime story. The main character is just too hateful to me, and I can’t get behind the ideas in the book. But the kids enjoy it. Nica feels the primal call of the pink. <sigh>

Thankfully, the book hasn’t made Nica say “yuck” every time she sees green vegetables, but it has made her start nagging me about baking pink cupcakes. I hope it is only that she wants to eat pretty treats.