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New children's novel Koori Princess celebrates proud First Nations girls

Emma Ruben -

A new novel by award-winning Wiradyuri author Anita Heiss celebrates all of the confident and proud First Nations young girls.

Dr Heiss' new children's novel, Koori Princess, tells the story of soon-to-be eight year old Teish, a bubbly girl who believes more than anything she is a princess.

Readers will get the chance to read about Teish and how her self-confidence passes over to all her family and friends.

Coupled with illustrations by Dagiman creator Samantah Campbell, Koori Princess offers a First Nations lens on coming of age for young girls.

Dr Heiss said she wanted to write a book for young girls about being a princess without the worries of a hierarchy or royalty.

"Koori Princess was probably the first project where I allowed myself to write without months of research," she said.

"I wanted to just enjoy the process and write a fun book for young readers that demonstrated our kids could be creative and happy.

"I wanted to write a story that says we can all be princesses every day and that we come in all different skin tones, shapes, sizes and ages and being a princess needn't be about royalty or hierarchy."

As inspiration, Dr Heiss drew from some of her favourite Disney princesses of colour.

"I set about creating a loving, interesting family and then started watching Disney films," she said.

"In my book Teish reminds us of the deadly Disney princesses of colour, like Moana, the Polynesian princess, Elena of Avalor, a Latina princess, there's Princess Tiana, a black Princess from the deep south of America.

"I wrote most of the novel in one week being inspired by the movies and imagining how Teish and her siblings would interact daily."

Dr Heiss wanted a feisty, confident main character for Koori Princess. She said Teish is exactly that.

"Teish is smart, strong, fabulous and fearless. She believes in herself and is following her dreams, and that's all it takes to be a princess in my mind," she said.

"She adores her father, and has her father wrapped around his little finger, and believes she is a princess.

"But she also thinks and feels deeply and analyses the meanings and messages behind the lives of the princesses she engages with on the screen."

Koori Princess is out now and is available for purchase through Magabala Books.

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