Girls, Sports, and Princess Frocks

Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad e-book for the iPad sample page
"I'd rather be a slug-slurping toad than a princess with no baseball!"--Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad, sporty girls' ebook for iPad® and Kindle Fire®

The Tomboy Word Replacement Project

posted Aug 3, 2013, 9:28 AM by Holloway McCandless   [ updated Aug 3, 2013, 9:34 AM ]

Here's a strong and short essay about the tomboy word problem by Rachel Pieh Jones, with an interesting etymological citation that makes the word even less appealing.

Although I confess when I was about the age in this photo I liked being called a tomboy:

Personally I don't prefer "warrior princess" to "tomboy" but I like the impetus behind the essay.

The Tomboy Princess Phenom

posted Aug 3, 2013, 9:21 AM by Holloway McCandless

This blog post on about the tomboy-princess hybrid describes this type of character as she appears in anime and video games, among other places. Check out the links at the bottom the post for examples taken from various media as well as from "real life" (Elizabeth II!).

The "Literature" link leaves out one of my (and my daughter's) all-time favorite tomboy-princesses, The Paper Bag Princess

Now wishing there was a term for "tomboy" that didn't include the Adam's Rib-ish "boy." But "tomgirl" doesn't seem likely to supersede it. Let's work on this!

Superhero Princess Dresses

posted May 7, 2013, 9:05 AM by Holloway McCandless   [ updated May 7, 2013, 2:21 PM ]

Recently a mom on Twitter asked for help finding a Spiderman party dress for her three-year-old daughter, tweeting #WEDONTWANTOBEAPRINCESS. Here are the two rad dresses that came out of the search:


An attitude-infused Spidergirl dress with sparkly skirt from, natch.

I love this blurring of lines between girly and supergirly. It's not an either-or.

A girl can have her tulle and her sparkles and her superpowers, too. Or, like Princess Diamond, she can hit a home run wearing a Toile de Jouy dress and a dimestore tiara:
Princess Diamond baseball home run

Play ball!

Sportspersonship for All Sports

posted Feb 27, 2013, 7:52 AM by Holloway McCandless

This has nothing to do with baseball, sporty princesses, or even toads, but everything to do with princely behavior as it should be defined: cooperation, sportspersonship, and humanship. If you haven't seen this video yet (bound to be viral, if not already viral) you must watch it. I wish I saw more of this spirit in youth sports, and less parental pushing toward Division I delusions. 

Grab a hankie and watch this 2:41 video of the Best In-bound Pass of the 21st Century. You'll feel better about youth sports, and humanity, all day.

Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad Travel the Amazon

posted Feb 6, 2013, 8:55 AM by Holloway McCandless   [ updated May 7, 2013, 10:46 AM ]

I finally took the Kindle .mobi plunge. It took some doing: a reformat of my iBooks Author version, exported and resized jpegs, and some mega-handholding from Charles Spender's e-book Formatting of Children's Books and Comics for the Kindle (99 cents spent on this book will save you HOURS of frustration if you want to use jpeg images to make a fixed-layout children's book for the Kindle), but it was no worse than 13 innings of baseball on a rainy night in October.

So I'm happy to announce...

Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad is now available for the Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD, and the Kindle for Android app! The Kindle version is cheaper than the iPad version because it does not have audio or video, just colorful pictures and a cheerful story ready for live human reading. I did not take the plunge all the way down to the sea cave of embedding audio and video in an EPUB--I would need to start sleeping longer hours if I wanted to attempt that calculus. (Big slice of humble pie: After skimming some EPUB audio instructions, I have new respect for my summer nemesis, the iBooks Author audio widget.)

One of the great things about the Kindle Store, vs. the iBookstore, is that you can give an e-book as a gift.

So if you want to give Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad to a young sports fan who has access to a Kindle Fire, a Kindle Fire HD, or to an Android with the Kindle app, click here:


Hoping to reach more sporty girls in Kindle-Land...


Images of Real Girls

posted Dec 4, 2012, 5:33 PM by Holloway McCandless

Princess Diamond endorses this recent TedxWomen talk by Julia Bluhm and Izzy Labbe, two real teenagers from Maine who are taking magazines like Seventeen to task for promoting unreal Photoshopped images of girls. The video* begins with another young woman's videoblogged riff about the lyrics of Beyoncé Knowles' "Run the World (Girls)"; Courtney Martin introduces Bluhm and Labbe around Minute 5.

All of the images in Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad are un-manipulated except for exposure (I originally shot the images on Fuji Velvia slide film, and later had them digitized so I could import them into the iBooks Author App). Princess Diamond wore no makeup for the shoot, and her goal in the story is not looking beautiful or finding a prince. What Princess Diamond really, really, wants is to find her lost baseball.

Yes, the girl who plays Princess Diamond is blonde and blue(-gray)-eyed, but that's not why I asked her to play the part. Carmen got the part because:
1) she was a good actress who could convey Princess Diamond's assertive attitude, 
2) she was sporty and strong, and 
3) she lived two houses away and could come down to the garden on short notice when the morning light and the roses were just right. 

Here she is ready to whack a baseball, aged 10:
Princess Diamond with baseball bat

And here she is 11 years later, messing about in a frog cap: 
Princess Diamond in Frog Cap

Zero makeup, zero Photoshop, zero false demure. Girls got to be real.

For more real girl talk, read Bluhm's and Labbe's blogs on the SPARK a Movement site.

*Hat tip to Rachel Simmons, whose tweet led me to the TedxWomen video clip.

Black Friday Sale

posted Nov 23, 2012, 5:52 AM by Holloway McCandless   [ updated Jan 28, 2013, 5:57 PM ]

Here's something fun and wholesome to put on that iPad you're buying early for the holidays:

Yellow Pansy  Black Friday into Thanksgiving Weekend Sale Yellow Pansy
Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad for only $2.99 

Video Book Trailer: Baseball Toad Plays "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

posted Nov 13, 2012, 2:35 PM by Holloway McCandless

How I Made the Baseball Toad Ukulele Video for YouTube

posted Nov 13, 2012, 2:32 PM by Holloway McCandless

No fancy video recording equipment needed!

1) I used my daughter's iPad as the video camera (you can change the camera switch from stills to movie) to record Jaime playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" while wearing the toad mask (he couldn't see his fingers on the ukulele!).

2) Then I connected the iPad to my laptop via the USB port and imported the video it into iMovie. (I'm not sure if Photostream can cope with files that big, and I was too impatient to wait anyway.)

3) I used iMovie's tools to add a title opening, insert a couple still photographs as brackets to the video footage, and to attach end credits.

4) I also borrowed a frog/toad audio croak from the iLife "Animals" sound effects folder and used the audio that recorded with the video for the music. Jaime had helped me record a separate GarageBand track that was a little higher quality, but I couldn't make it match the toad's finger movements on the video, so I stuck with the sound that the iPad recorded along with the video. I did sample a bit of the other recording at the end, as a coda to accompany the credits.

5) I used iMovie's Share-->"Upload to YouTube" feature which only requires that you have a YouTube account (related to Google if you use Gmail) and that you own the copyright for whatever you're uploading.

5a) If you were making a movie to embed in a media widget in iBooks Author, you would export to your hard drive or to iTunes. I suggest Medium quality, to keep the .mv4 file from being overly large.

Pretty simple and somewhat easy. I'll embed the video on my next post.

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on a ukulele

posted Nov 6, 2012, 12:35 PM by Holloway McCandless   [ updated May 8, 2013, 7:07 PM ]

Baseball Toad Plays Ukelele
Princess Diamond's real-life brother has agreed help me record a ukulele version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" to use as a soundtrack for a Princess Diamond and the Baseball Toad book trailer. He's also going to try to play his ukulele wearing the Toad mask we used for the photos in the book.

I'm going to use my daughter's iPad2 as a video camera--hope that works! Then I think I can transfer it to my laptop using PhotoStream.

Once I get the audio-visual results edited on GarageBand and iMovie I will add them here, and also on either YouTube or Vimeo. I checked online, and only the commonly-known lyrics ("buy me some peanuts and CrackerJacks," etc.) are copyrighted. The original music to the song is in the public domain, so I don't have to get any permissions (phew).

The great thing about these Apple tools--GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto, iBooks Author, etc. is that they all work together.

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