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The Restless Girls

Written by Jessie Burton

Illustrated by Angela Barrett

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The Restless Girls Review

Fantasy / Magical Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Traditional Tales

Fabulous feminist fairy tale

This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud. 

Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name of keeping them safe. The palace is transformed into a tomb, and “only melancholy was allowed to illuminate the girls’ days”. But brave, clever Frida stands up to her father. “This isn’t fair, and you know it,” she protests. “You cannot tell us how to grieve”. And then, with the grace and strength of a lioness and the potency of her imagination, Frida leads her sisters in a fight to re-find life. 

The writing pirouettes with the lithe power of a devoted dancer, with Angela Barrett’s elegant illustrations in perfect accord. What a sumptuous, stirring celebration of sisterhood this is.

For more books with a feminist feel check out Work it Girl - Inspiring and Informative Books on Feminism.

Joanne Owen

Other Info

The Restless Girls Synopsis

A dazzling, feminist fairytale from the bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse. This inspirational story about family, sisterhood, imagination and bravery is a modern classic to be handed down from mother to daughter for generations

For her twelve daughters, Queen Laurelia's death in a motor car accident is a disaster beyond losing a mother. Their father, King Alberto, cannot bear the idea of the princesses ever being in danger and decides his daughters must be kept safe at all costs. Those costs include their lessons, their possessions and, most importantly, their freedom. But the eldest, Princess Frida, will not bend to his will without a fight and she still has one possession her father can't take: the power of her imagination. And so, with little but wits and ingenuity to rely on, Frida and her sisters begin their fight to be allowed to live.

The Restless Girls Press Reviews

A magical modern retelling of an old fairytale - the exquisite text and illustrations work in perfect harmony - Jacqueline Wilson

It's critical what we read our kids ... Jessie Burton has very cleverly has taken a fairytale that was already standing and loved, but has reframed it. It's asking you to think of yourself and value yourself in terms other than the way you look, and just that - that one tiny aspect of the book - alone, was, to me, just a complete revelation - Thandie Newton

The Restless Girls is wild, wise, generous, ferocious kind of story. It's a tale to read to your children (of both genders) over and over, and for them to read to theirs. It's a book that glows - Katherine Rundell, author of The Explorer

A beautifully realised, whirling adventure full of the dark glitter of growing up, The Restless Girls is a fierce fairytale for the rebel girl - and boy - generation - Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Girl of Ink & Stars

A story of love, loss, grief, and a desperate yearning for freedom, told with breathtaking compassion and wisdom - Louise O'Neill, author of The Surface Breaks

[Burton] fleshes out this traditional fairytale with personality ... Angela Barrett's illustrations, meanwhile, add an exotic visual richness to Burton's painterly descriptions of the princesses' enchanted underworld - Irish Times

A riveting feminist retelling, filled with excitement, imagination, magic, and just the right touch of darkness. These twelve fierce heroines will be a pleasure to return to again and again - Madeline Miller

This re-telling was refreshing and empowering and utterly impossible to put down ... An exciting and magical tale of joy, love and the courage of twelve girls to be wholly themselves - Dr. Alaa Murabit

A feminist fairytale about finding one's inner lioness and about picking a battle very much worth fighting ...This brilliant reimagining of Grimms' tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses completely subverts the fairytale genre. Gone are insipid, demure 'weaker sex' princessy-princesses and enter feisty and passionate girls who trail-blaze their way into a better life ... This would be perfect for children in upper key stage 2 and would work well alongside our sequences for The Sleeper and The Spindle, The Lost Happy Endings and The Princess' Blankets - The Literary Curriculum

I have spent years reading princess books to my daughter but changing the words as I go along so they make the female characters stronger and representative and basically not victims. This book did it for me so I can just relax and read the book without worrying about what negative images I am putting into my daughter's brain whilst she can enjoy a book about princesses. This was refreshing and wonderful and a joy to read! - The Green Parent

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781526618474
Publication date: 20/08/2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408886915
Publication date: 27/09/2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781526618474
Publication date: 20th August 2020
Author: Jessie Burton
Illustrator: Angela Barrett
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 160 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Fantasy / Magical, Traditional Tales
Collections: Girl Power - Inspiring and Informative Books with a Feminist Edge,

About Jessie Burton

Jessie Burton was born in 1982 and went to school in south London. Her favourite subjects were story-writing, sleeping and ice-cream eating. After studying at Oxford University, the highlight of which was playing a rose and a fox in The Little Prince, she went on to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She worked hard for nine years as an actress and a PA before her first novel, The Miniaturist, was published. The Miniaturist was translated into over thirty languages and has sold over a million copies around the world. Her second novel, The ...

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