“I want everyone to feel like they can have their own once upon a time.”
That sentiment was author Greg McGoon’s motivation behind his children’s book The Royal Heart, a book which tells the story of a young prince named Lyric, who transforms into a princess on her sixteenth birthday in order to live as her authentic self. Lyric, born male, worries about never being able to become king and rule the land as planned or expected, but after a magical transformation into a princess, she is embraced without reservation by her parents. Lyric’s yearnings to live a different life and find the confidence to do so is something many of us can relate to — and certainly a message that should be sent to kids.
Speaking to HelloGiggles, McGoon told us how fairy tales shaped his own childhood. “I think fairy tales added to my sense of adventure. I travel often and go exploring. I like to explore forests and castles if countries I visit happen to have them accessible. Fairy tales sparked that curiosity.”
As for what inspired the initial process to create this particular fairy tale, McGoon says, “Given the variety of fairy tales throughout history from all around the world, one thing I’ve always noticed is lacking: LGBTQ characters. And that is not because they did not exist, it is because society squashed their voices. Children have their princes and princess to dress up as and fantasize about, but what if you are gay or lesbian, undefined or transgender. Children deserve to have a tangible story and character to relate to, especially in a fairy tale capacity.”
This book is important for so many reasons but the main one being that we all deserve love and compassion, which is exactly what Lyric finds. Incorporating universal themes of desiring to be understood and loved by our parents while also discovering and displaying our true selves, is what makes this book transcendent across age and gender.
Although McGoon uses a transgender main character to exemplify acceptance and love, the quest for self discovery and acceptance is a common tale, relevant for all kids. McGoon told the Huffington Post, “I wrote a story about love, acceptance and leadership. It just so happens that it features a transgender character. It is never too early to teach children about acceptance. We all live on the same planet. In order to function in a healthy manner, we must start embracing the spectrum of lives and experiences in order move past fear or disgust and recognize the part of ourselves that wants to be fully accepted. If children live in fear of acceptance then society is failing.”
To HelloGiggles he continued that thought saying, “This book recognizes that an individual’s identity is more than appearance and that’s meaningful to all of us.”
Kindness and understanding are innate traits in children. Celebrating those traits in this fairy tale is an important step for inclusivity. All of us always want to relate to characters in our favorite books and movies and see part of ourselves in them. For anyone who identifies within the LGBTQ spectrum, there aren’t many traditional children’s stories that offer that possibility.
Ultimately, the significance of this fairy tale, as McGoon so eloquently puts it is that, “The true magic of the story lives in the response to the transformation, ‘we love you’. That is a power that does exist and can always be shared.”
This book is the first in a series of fairy tales to be penned by McGoon that feature LGBTQ characters. His next book in this series dives in with a plotline centered around a gay prince. All his upcoming titles can be found here, including the The Tanglelows which is slated for a March 14th release.