LAKEVIEW — Once upon a time, a mother was reading a beloved fairy tale to her two daughters, but felt something was amiss.
Night after night, she retold the same tired story: A princess falls in love, gets the guy and lives happily ever after.
But what comes after that, the mother pondered. Does Snow White ever eat another apple? How does Belle keep her mind sharp while lounging about the Beast's castle?
One night, she decides she's had enough, and invents her own sequel to Cinderella's happily ever after, but when the girls ask to see the book, she's forced to confess she made it all up.
So Amelia Case took matters into her own hands, working with her daughters to write a series of children's books that details the princesses' lives after their traditional stories end.
What began as a mother-daughter project grew into a decade-long mission to provide young girls with empowering stories of Princesses With A Twist.
"I starting thinking maybe we would put them together for the kids to remember what we did when they were little, but then we started reading them to other girls, and their moms are asking me, 'Are you going to publish these?' And I thought, 'Oh, I guess a lot of mothers are having this problem,'" Case said.
[Princesses with a Twist]
Now, Case is hoping to raise $30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to publish the books — she and her daughters have already written 17 — and share their empowering messages. Donations at the $25, $45 or $160 level also benefit literacy group Working in the Schools, with Case pledging to send five to 10 copies of the princess books and value cards to partnering schools. As of Wednesday night, almost $16,000 had been raised from 124 backers.
Their versions of Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid and other heroines become veterinarians, business owners and bakers as they test out their talents and find purpose. Cinderella, bored with the fineries of castle life, decides to open a glass slipper factory so women all through the land can enjoy the luxury.
Daughters Isabella and Sophia, now 12 and 9 and students at Nettelhorst Elementary School, were toddlers when the series began, but as they grew, they began sketching illustrations, writing stories and scheduling meetings for the series in their east Lakeview home.
While writing "Snow White And The Happy Apple," the trio tested dozens of apple recipes to use in the books, from apple cinnamon popcorn to apple-flavored cookies.
"It's been such a beautiful journey for me as a mother. I learned that Isabella is bursting with creativity, and Sophia is searching for answers. She really wants to be commanding people. I can see how they've connected with certain qualities of the princesses, and somehow, it's given them license to succeed on their own merits," Case said.
That's the goal — for the brave, intelligent, enthusiastic princesses to inspire girls to follow their passions and embrace their own strengths.
The "Princesses With A Twist" book series includes original stories about Cinderella, Snow White, Belle and other fairytale characters. [Princesses with a Twist]
"People you think are the most powerful people, even they can be just riddled with troubles of self-confidence and self-esteem. There's this pandemic of girls comparing themselves to each other and having low self-esteem," which can lead to issues like depression, eating disorders and substance abuse, Case said.
The doctor-by-day, author-by-night said she's spent the past 15 months preparing for the Kickstarter campaign, spending almost $40,000 on legal aid, trademark rights and forming the Princesses With A Twist corporation.
Her dream now is for the Kickstarter to attract enough parents to make the series a success.
"I want to get this out to the broader population, real moms who say they can pledge $10 or $25 instead of $100 or $500," Case said. "Then we know we're touching people's lives."
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