Texas author pens enchanting children's storybook about Princess Diana
“Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made," the Archbishop of Canterbury famously declared at the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles in 1981. Of course, the British royal couple's real-life fairy tale did not end in a "happily ever after."
But now, 25 years after the tragic and untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a Dallas mom-and-author wants to introduce children to the parts of the beloved princess' life that really were storybook worthy. Emberli Pridham's A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana will be published through Gatekeeper Press ($21.95) on September 1.
The 48-page hardcover book is a charmingly illustrated biography intended for children ages 3 to 8. It succinctly chronicles Princess Diana's life, from her childhood to her life as a royal and mother, and showcases her impact on the world as "the people's princess."
Famous vignettes from her life — including her engagement, wedding, charity work, and White House twirl around the dance floor with John Travolta — are also depicted in whimsical illustrations by Danilo Cerovic. The foreword is written by her friend and well-known interior designer Carleton Varney.
The book will be the first in a series of "Real-Life Fairy Tale" stories about inspiring and influential people that Pridham intends to write. She is no stranger to writing books for young people. Pridham, along with her husband, David, co-authored the Amazon best-selling STEM book series, If Not You, Then Who?
But this one had extra special meaning, she says, because of her desire to share Princess Diana’s legacy with younger generations like her daughter — who inspired the book.
The Pridhams live in Dallas with their three children, Brooke, Noah, and Graham, and are involved in a number of philanthropic organizations throughout the city.
We donned a tiara and chatted with Emberli about the new Princess Diana book, her fairy tale series, and the inspiration she hopes it will provide for a new generation of little princes and princesses.
CultureMap: Why did you decide to do a children's series on the topic of "real-life" fairy tales? Are these the kinds of stories you enjoyed as a child, or read to your own children?
Emberli Pridham: My daughter Brooke, actually! I was reading to her a fairy tale one night and went down a bunny trail of wanting to read to her about a real-life princess. And Princess Diana was the first to pop into my head. She is someone who I thought would be an incredible role model that I wanted my daughter to learn about and be inspired by her incredible compassion, kindness, and empathy.
CM: How did you decide which vignettes from Princess Diana's life to focus on, and what kind of research did it entail? Were you a fan of hers as a child?
EP: I chose Diana because she was a real-life princess who exemplified grace and dignity. She gave so much of her time to important causes and to the most vulnerable of people in the world. I decided to highlight all the positive aspects about her life.
I also read her biography Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton, which really helped paint the story and life of Princess Diana.
I have always been a fan of Princess Diana and I will never forget the morning of her funeral; it had quite an impact on me, watching it back as a young 10-year-old girl. It was so apparent how much she meant to people around the world.
CM: Did you have to work with any official royal family channels to use her name or illustrate her likeness?
EP: We didn’t have to work with any official royal channels. This book is an illustrated story based on her life, intended to highlight the positive aspects of her character for children. Similar to how people work who write historical fiction books.
CM: The release coincides with the 25th anniversary of her death (on August 31, 1997), when there will be a lot of public remembrances about her. Was that intentional?
EP: No, not intentional. I wrote and released this book because I really wanted to educate children of this generation (that were either not born yet or too young to remember her) so they know about this incredible and amazing woman.
CM: The story is written like a poem, with some sweet rhyming patterns, but still covers a lot of history. What was your writing process like, writing specifically for children?
EP: As a little girl and still to this day, I love children’s books with a rhyme. I wanted the story to sound beautiful to readers, much like reading a poem. Diana was beautiful inside and out and I wanted the story to reflect that.
CM: Tell me about your illustrator and how you worked together on the charming yet detailed illustrations.
EP: I wanted the illustrations to be different, and my own. I researched a lot of different illustration styles. When I was growing up, I was a big fan of The Secret Garden and watercolors and wanted the illustrations in my book to be like a work of art that you can hang up on your wall.
Our illustrator, Danilo Cerovic, did a wonderful job; we worked well together. He was magnificent and really understood and captured what I would convey in my words and translated them into these dreamy images, truly making the pictures come to life!
CM: You're giving 10 percent of book proceeds to Centrepoint, a UK organization that Princess Diana was patron of, and now Prince William has been its patron since 2005. How did you decide on this nonprofit?
EP: We looked up which charities Princess Diana was most involved with and this one really struck a chord with me. (Note: The organization provides young people experiencing homelessness with accommodation, health support, and life skills to get them back into education, training, and employment, according to the website.)
CM: Where can Dallas readers find A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Diana?
CM: What can you tell us about forthcoming books in your fairy tale series?
EP: I’m thinking about so many great women, it’s hard to narrow down. I know for sure the next book will be about Princess Grace of Monaco, but after her I am not sure who will follow, so stay tuned.