The Princess and the Pants

The Princess and the Pants

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On the banks of the Gwa’yi River, a young Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w princess grows up to be a curious student, an influential leader, and a mother. She is a humble person and doesn’t speak of her royalty to her children, but when they learn she is a princess at a traditional celebration, they are in disbelief. She doesn’t wear fancy clothes or attend balls or do anything the children think princesses should do. Using a strategy they had read about in an old tale to put their mother’s royalty to the test, the children discover the truth. But more importantly, they also learn what it really means to be a princess.

Written as a tribute to the author’s grandmother, this beautifully illustrated story reimagines a fairy tale in a contemporary Indigenous setting.

"The author was inspired by the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Anderson when she wrote this story to honour her grandmother. In this contemporary version, two children, while attending a traditional Indigenous celebration, are surprised to hear that their mother is a princess. She has never mentioned her royalty, and she doesn’t act the way the children think princesses generally behave. Remembering the story that told of placing a pea under mattresses to test if a person is a real princess, the children secretly place a pair of pants under their mother’s mattress and anxiously wait to hear if her sleep is affected. In the morning, they learn not only the truth, but also what it really means to be a princess.

Classroom Connections: The Princess and the Pants could be used in the classroom to compare different versions of fairy tales. It could also serve as a springboard into discussions about the personal qualities that the author wished to celebrate when she wrote this story. A short biographical note about Dr. Evelyn Voyageur—a notable Indigenous leader—is included. Beautiful illustrations depict aspects of a Kwakwaka’wakw culture." - Canadian Teacher Magazine, Fall 2023 issue

Educator Information
Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Backmatter provides details about Ukwanalis, including a map, as well as information about the inspiration behind the story, Dr. Evelyn Voyageur.

Curriculum Connections 

  • Early Literacy – listening, reading, and discussing 
  • Art – traditional Indigenous art practices, including jewellery and regalia 
  • Social Studies – career education, family history, connection to community, geography, and local First Peoples communities 
  • Language Arts – contemporary First Peoples stories and revisioning classic fairy tales 
  • Social Responsibility – leadership, humility, caring for others, and honouring traditions 

Additional Information
24 Pages | 8.5” x 11” | Hardcover