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Julie Andrews and Daughter Emma Walton Hamilton Let Their Sparkle Out in “The Very Fairy Princess”

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Julie Andrews The Very Fairy Princess Graduation GirlDame Julie Andrews is no stranger to the royal life. She’s graced the screen and stage in roles like Cinderella, Queen Clarisse Renaldi in The Princess Diaries and Queen in Shrek. But it’s a new little “royal” that has captured her heart —the star of the children’s book series Andrews authors with daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.


The inspiration for The Very Fairy Princess’s Geraldine is a feisty girl named Hope, Hamilton’s daughter and Andrews’ granddaughter. In the books, she’s a problem-solving princess who, in the latest story, is nervous to graduate and start afresh in a new classroom come fall.

“We really wanted to create a series that empowered little girls to think about who they were inside,” Hamilton says. “It’s ironic that it’s the princess theme, because you think about princesses and it’s all about the externals…and certainly that’s something Gerry, our little princess character, adores, but it’s actually really about the inner sparkle, and she is a different kind of princess than you might imagine.”

Andrews describes Geraldine—who has scabs on her knees and holes in her tights—as a “tomboy.” Gerry does her best to assume the life of a princess while encountering the struggles her normal elementary-aged peers face. “She says things like, you can be whatever you want to be, you just have to let your sparkle out, and so that’s become the recurring theme throughout these books, of Gerry sometimes being in danger of losing her sparkle…but inevitably reclaiming it and finding it again,” Hamilton says.

Just as some of the characters in the story are modeled after real people—Hope’s own male teacher donned polka dot socks, like Gerry’s new teacher does in Graduation Girl!—some of the stories also stem from real-life events.

“There’s one story of my childhood that I wove into this series,” Andrews says, noting that she once had forgotten to pack ballet shoes for a performance that was taking place on a rainy bank holiday. The shops were closed, there was no one she could borrow from, and her socks had holes and were covered in mud. She did have a wet-wipe, which her mother used to paint a shoe over her socks, just as Gerry does in Sparkles in the Snow. When Andrews went on stage, she “left a trail of little white footprints,” she recalls. “You could see [the audience] saying, ‘Is she wearing shoes?’ And I was mortified. I never forgot my shoes again.” In the story, Gerry similarly leaves purple tracks on the stage. “But it was lovely to be able to refer to it and know exactly how the little kid felt,” Andrews said.

While other books are in the works, Andrews and Hamilton are unsure as to whether Gerry will age and tackle more grown-up topics. Hamilton explains the authors did not wish to state the specific grade Gerry was graduating from in the latest book, for example.

In an age so focused on technology, reading books is still vital for children. “When you’re engaging with text, you’re decoding,” as opposed to looking at a screen, where “you’re simply receiving,” Hamilton says. “It is essential to preserve that and to sustain that for young readers.”

Moms, do you have your own little “royal”? Dazzle her with this princess-sneaker cake:

How to Make a Princess-Sneaker Cake
How to Make a Princess-Sneaker Cake
How to Make a Princess-Sneaker Cake

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