Janet Byington had just returned from a trip to Disney with a gift for her 2-year-old granddaughter — the gift was an adorable pink princess outfit.
Problem was, even at 2, her granddaughter hated the thing. She just wasn’t the princess type.
“In that moment it dawned on me that I’m not the princess type either,” Byington said. "And furthermore, I did not want her to become the princess type. I did not want her to grow up thinking she had to wait on her Prince Charming to start her life. I also did not want her to think she would have servants waiting on her every need as she did nothing to give back. Nor did I want her to think she was going to live in a castle one day and everyone would become her royal subject."
So Janet decided to write a book — a book to let girls know it was ok to want to be something other than a princess. And not only that, but they could be absolutely anything they wanted to be.
Janet took her idea to artist Cheryl Riner Hodge who said a book focused on helping very young girls learn more about their place and potential in the world immediately made her think of her own grandkids and she was eager to join in.
So with photos of their grandkids in hand, Cheryl created the inquisitive Natty Cat (based on Janet’s granddaughter Natalee Catherine) and Libby (whose inspiration was Cheryl’s granddaughter Elizabeth Virginia).
The colorful book, called “I Don’t Wanna Wear A Crown,” introduces readers to Natty Cat and Libby who live a beautiful town called Rome. Natty Cat realizes that she doesn’t want to be a princess. She doesn’t want to wear a crown. So she asks others for advice on what she can be.
Her smart friend Libby joins her and together they explore a world of possibilities of what a young girl can grow up to be.
Readers see through the young girls’ eyes (and thanks to vivid illustrations) that the possibilities for what a young girl can achieve are endless. On one of the first pages of the girls’ musings, education leads to graduation and to the halls of government.
But then they explore even more possibilities. From astronaut to farmer, stay-at-home mom to veterinarian and police officer, there seems to be no end to the list of careers Natty Cat and Libby can pursue.
“Girls can be doctors and help people get well,
Girls can be writers with stories to tell.
Girls can be officers, truck drivers or vets.
Girls can even be things we haven’t dreamed of yet.”
As the pages continue and the colorful illustrations come to life, young readers see even more professions young girls can pursue if they work toward their goals — from scientists to ballplayers to musicians, artists and the military.
“You see, Natty Cat, it’s up to you and me.
For whatever we do, hard work is the key.
It’s all up to us, because girls can be
Anything we want — anything we see.”
Janet said it was important for her and Cheryl to emphasize in the book that little girls can achieve their dreams if they work hard.
“Hard work is the key to success,” she said. “We want our grandchildren and all other children who read the book to know that.”
The women hope this is only the first in a series of books in which Natty Cat and Libby learn life lessons as they grow.
“I Don’t Wanna Wear a Crown” is being launched on Oct. 5 at a book launch and signing at The Rabbit’s Nest, 215 Broad St., from 1-6:30 p.m.
Starting next week, the book will be available online and at the Rabbit’s Nest.
For more information or to order copies, visit online at www.NattyCatandLibby.com or search “Natty Cat and Libby” on Facebook.