No More Princess Smartypants: Obituary for Children’s Book Writer Babette Cole

The creator of Princess Smartypants, Babette Cole, has died aged 67, following complications after a collapsed lung. Known and beloved by everyone whose sense of humour is a little whacky, and by children and parents who prefer their reading irreverent and subversive, she will be sorely missed. In particular her series on the quirky and anarchic Princess Smartypants, who rejects marriage, princes, and subverts her boring boarding school, created an alternative fairytale culture for girls. Rather than continuing the traditional, at times even reactionary pink cult of blonde princesses waiting for Prince Charming to marry them, Babette Cole invented a princess with different qualities while still allowing girls to identify with Smartypants. She has enormous pets which look more like dinosaurs, she likes getting her hands dirty, and has an unpredictable and wild horse, she loves roller-skating and is extremely clever. Prospective suitors are turned into toads, since Smartypants prefers to remain a ‘Ms’, and correct school-mistresses are transformed into mice, to let the girl pupils experiment with flying brooms and cool clothes, rather than learning to spin and plait their blond tresses. Babette Cole’s other books, including “The Trouble with Mum”, “The Trouble with Dad”, and “The Trouble with Granddad”, or the series on smelly and dirty stuff which children adore, are equally subversive and will continue to delight both younger and older readers.

For more information on Babette Cole’s work have a look at her website: