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'Rejected Princesses': women in history who are anything but G-rated

Mongolian princess Khutulun, as illustrated by Jason Porath in his blog and new book,
Mongolian princess Khutulun, as illustrated by Jason Porath in his blog and new book, "Rejected Princesses."
Jason Porath

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Author and illustrator Jason Porath will give a talk and signing at Book Soup (8818 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood) on Tuesday, October 25th at 7 p.m.

Well-behaved women rarely make history, but they're often the stars of kids' films.

Princess Jasmine flew away with Aladdin in a Disney movie, and the only rules she really broke were sneaking out of the house for a day and falling in love with a commoner.

Meanwhile, Mary Bowser has yet to have her story told on screen.

During the Civil War, she was a Union spy who infiltrated the Confederate White House of President Jefferson Davis as a servant, and then when her identity was about to be uncovered, she fled and set his home ablaze.

But Bowser and many more real-life women are now getting the star treatment in the blog and new book by Jason Porath, "Rejected Princesses: Tales of the History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions and Heretics."

He's a former Dreamworks animator who researched rebellious women throughout history and from many different cultures, some princesses and some not.

Then he illustrated their portraits in the style of kids' films to give them their due, even if their stories might be too complex or troubling for some children to grasp.

"It's not a book that censors history," he says. "It's doing all of these woman and, really, all of our society a disservice if you sweep them under the rug or don't get these stories told because they've got something in them that people find distasteful."

Among the stars of "Rejected Princesses" is Khutulun, the 13th century great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan. To marry her, you needed to defeat her in wrestling. Lose, and you forfeit 100 horses.

At the end of her life, she had 10,000 horses and no husband.

Porath believes filmmakers are trying to introduce more firebrand, female characters like Khutulun in movies – it's the audiences who are doing the rejection.

"Animation studios have put out a lot of really interesting women in different movies that people just haven't gone to see," he says.

With "Rejected Princesses," Porath is preserving these women's stories even if they end up getting the G-rated treatment in films and history books to give them mass appeal.

"There's been a ton of women throughout history who are fiery iconoclasts who just don't make the final cut," he says, "or if they do, they're whittled down."

See more samples from Rejected Princesses by visiting Jason Porath's blog.

Click the blue audio player to hear the full interview.