What Pre-Teen Princesses Can Learn from Shrek as They Become Warrior Women

An Open Letter to Children of All Ages Everywhere (and to My Eighteen-Month-Old Granddaughter):

I have a secret to share with you. Grownups, at least some of us -- take me, for example -- enjoy cartoons, fairy tales, fantasy fiction, Disneyworld, and what are considered “children’s” movies just as much as you do. Maybe even more.

The child in me just refuses to allow herself to be killed off -- no matter how distressing the headlines. Be careful, this can happen, so guard your own child well. My child’s sense of wonder, her ability to embrace the whimsical, the impossible, the ridiculous, has steadfastly refused to disappear, or to make room for a full-time, hostile-to-Hogwarts kind of Muggle.

Yes, I admit it. I have loved the Harry Potter series too. That children have magical powers with which they can confront great evil is a stirring, even hopeful, concept, given that there is so much evil in the world. Grownups need all the help they can get in fighting it. In fact, many grownups are rather cowardly in terms of “speaking truth to power” or risking their livelihoods, not to mention their lives, for the sake of truth or justice.

True, the young Harry Potter wizards do attend boarding school (how British of them) and they must study for exams, but still, they get to fly around on brooms, concoct magical potions, become invisible, transport themselves to far distant places, employ owls and rats as “familiars,” and cavort with other magical and mythological creatures such as Centaurs, unicorns, and dragons.

But this is not what I want to talk about. Today, we will be talking about the wonderful Shrek series. (After all, the fifth film -- Puss in Boots -- just came out this past weekend.)

Next: Embracing your inner ogre...