Writing the New Yorker's annual children's-book-roundup about ten years ago, Adam Gopnik took issue with Mimi's Tutu, by Tynia Thomassie and Jan Spivey Gilchrist. It's about a young African American girl who wants a ballerina's tutu, but her mother and family give her an African-styled dancing dress instead. Gopnik commented along the lines of "but she wanted a tutu," and went on to discuss books that serve adult agendas at the expense of children's wishes.
I've got two books he might want to take a look at:
One of the valuable results of the picture-book-folktale boom of the '90s was the publication of "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," etc. variants from around the world. We got to see folk heroes and heroines of many colors from many cultures.
But Disney will out, it seems. I can't decide if this is revolutionary or reactionary. On the one hand, it's Disney (Jump at the Sun is a Disney imprint), and the retellings are Disney-bland ("Beauty and the beast danced and played together"). On the other, the characters, as pictured, are recognizably African-American--Rapunzel's long hair is braided in dreads--not just sepia-toned drawings of white people. Does a little black girl have to want to be an Ashanti princess, or is she entitled to the Disney dream, too?