#PRINCESS REDEFINED: A New Gender Independent East Asian Superheroine

(Los Angeles/Riverside, CA, Oct. 16, 2014)

A new educational media organization, the Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA) is launching the first-ever children’s book that features a gender independent, East Asian super heroine named Princess Ten Ten. The Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA) has created a new book series to provide better role models for children, featuring a new ensemble of multiracial, multicultural princesses who work together under the slogan, “Protect the People and the Planet.” The GPA’s mission is to promote greater racial, cultural and gender understanding and inclusivity, while educating readers about current global issues. This fully illustrated chapter book is designed for readers between grades 3-5 and appropriate to be read to children 5+.

This first-ever gender independent princess defies the gender norms of her culture. She refuses to wear dresses, has short messy hair and practices a marital art that has traditionally been exclusively for boys. Because of Princess Ten Ten’s gender non-conformity, she is bullied by other children and even her own father rejects her.  This story reveals how Princess Ten Ten perseveres and becomes a superheroine. She earns the title ‘Guardian of the Skies’ by tackling the problem of air pollution. While raising awareness about the global impact of fossil fuel dependent economies, this story teaches readers about East Asian cultures. This story brings together Chinese, Japanese and Korean traditions since they are all part of her mixed-heritage.

The founder of the GPA is Setsu Shigematsu, an Associate Professor of the Media and Cultural Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. She is a scholar of feminism, practices martial arts and a mother of two children. The story was a collaboration between Shigematsu and several members of the GPA who have experienced ostracism and rejection due to their gender identities.

Professor Shigematsu was concerned with how the princess industry influences children, especially because she has a young daughter. Recognizing the power and influence of the princess in today’s culture, Professor Shigematsu sought to transform the representation of princess. She wrote the first Guardian Princess story by creating a superheroine she would want her daughter and other children to emulate. Many others have supported the cause and this group formed the Guardian Princess Alliance.

The Guardian Princess inaugural book series features seven multiracial and multicultural princesses. The first generation of princesses are East Asian, African, Latina, European, Native American, Pacific Islander and South Asian. Each princess is a guardian of one element of the environment. These heroines work together modeling cross-racial cooperation and the power of collective action. Guardian Princess books offer beautifully illustrated stories that emphasize the development of children’s talents, knowledge about the world, and each story includes educational supplements, such as a glossary and discussion questions.

Contact: Setsu Shigematsu (951-310-2105) setsu.shigematsu@gmail.com