Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Excuse me while I brag about the perks of my job: Last summer I got to visit Sesame Street. Over the winter I was invited to bring my daughter for a tour of Radio City Music Hall and a private dance lesson with The Rockettes. And yesterday, to continue my winning streak of interacting with massive cultural icons, I attended a small roundtable discussion with Julie Andrews. She and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, were talking to us about the upcoming National Princess Week, sponsored by Disney and Target. (If you’re like me and your car practically drives itself to Target every weekend, you’ll see how it’s being celebrated there: with toys and items about all the Disney princesses and a new 2-DVD set of “The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” on Blu-Ray, among other things.) The week also coincides with the publication of the third book in Julie’s and Emma’s Very Fairy Princess series, The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl. Julie and Emma were accompanied by Emma’s sweet young daughter, Hope, who generated a big “awww” from the room when she said that one of the things she likes best about princesses is that “they’re so kind.”
As someone who went on “The Sound of Music Tour” in Salzburg and has attended not one but two Sound of Music singalongs, getting to meet Julie Andrews in person was kind of a huge deal. She is precisely the way you’d expect and hope she’d be: warm, well-spoken, poised, lovely. And learning more about her super-successful writing career was so interesting. She’s written more than 20 books, many of them children’s picture books that she’s co-authored with Emma, who teaches children’s literature courses and has a thriving business mentoring children’s book authors. The mother-daughter duo live on opposite coasts (Los Angeles and Long Island, respectively) so they do a lot of their collaborating via iChat and Skype. They told a great story of the morning Julie woke up to Skype with Emma and felt too underdressed–so she spritzed on some perfume. (“It made me feel better,” Julie laughed.) You might assume, as I did, that getting books published has been relatively easy for them, but they’ve dealt with their share of rejection: “Oh, we’ve proposed lots of ideas where we’re told, ‘We think it’s a great idea, but it feels like a… quiet book,’” Emma said.
Given all the princess talk, the conversation inevitably led to Kate Middleton, and then right on to her sister Pippa, who’s currently in the middle of a pistol “scandal” (I’m not getting the gravity, personally). Julie shook her head. “I feel sorry for her,” she said. “By not being a royal, she is free to be targeted by the press. The paparazzi can’t get at Kate, so they get at Pippa. It must drive her crazy.”
When I got home last night, I read the new Very Fairy Princess book to my two girls, ages 6 and 3, and they sat quietly through the whole thing. That’s high praise in and of itself, but the real seal of approval came later when I went into my older daughter’s room to turn off her light, and the book was tucked under the covers with her.