Raising Resilient Girls: Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess

A couple of years ago, I wrote a beautiful book called Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess.

This diverse picture book was inspired by the life of my daughter Kayla Pecchioni. It is not her real-life story, but it sure was fun watching her grow up. I am so proud of her and how she weathered storms throughout her young life. She has strength and resilience that make me incredibly proud. Some of her fire came from me, but just as much was firmly embedded in her DNA when she was born. 

After graduation, Kayla picked a challenging profession to pursue, but she is flourishing as a triple-threat performer. She can act, dance, and sing. And I mean like, really sing. I have no idea where she got that talent from because it did not come from me! Her chosen career path is a tough one for anyone, but it has come with its own set of challenges as a Black female. Steep competition for roles is made all the more difficult simply because of the color of her skin. Talent and drive, sometimes, are not enough.

Kayla Dianne Pecchioni

Her attitude, courage, and brilliance as a young woman were a big part of my inspiration for writing Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess.

After I published this book, I submitted it for a review to Kirkus Reviews with high hopes and much excitement. When the review came back, it wasn’t bad, but since it was my first review from them, I took the feedback hard.  

One part of their critique mentioned that I “insinuated” that being a mother is the highest calling a woman could achieve. In this particular story, I not only intended to insinuate this, but I was also flat-out stating this as my truth.

After I received this criticism from Kirkus, it threw me off my game. But it also made me realize how this book was possibly being perceived. It made me ask myself if the finished product was clearly conveying a story filled with the powerful message of love, modeling, and the lengths mothers are willing to go to for the well-being of their child.

The answer was kind of. I could see it clearly, but I could also see that others may not be able to see my intended message. That realization, along with the fact that Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess was a bit long for a picture book, gave me the renewed determination to rework and release this heartfelt children’s picture book in 2021.

And I could not be more excited!

Little Brown Girls as Princesses

Another criticism from Kirkus was that the princess’s role in the book needed to be explored a little more.

How many princess books are there? A lot. But there are not that many about little brown girls as princesses. So, why again, does this need to be “explored” more just because the main princess in the story is BIPOC?

It seems there are a lot of books about white children who just get to declare themselves princesses. Like the Kayla character in my book, little girls all over the world play dress-up, pretend to be in a tower overlooking their kingdom, and sometimes they have chores and other family obligations they are less than thrilled about. Princesses are princesses. No more in-depth exploration is needed.

We must make room for stories about Black and Brown children. My family story is a unique perspective, and Kayla’s is made all the more energizing because of her determination and her drive in a field that will pick you to pieces.

Raising Resilient Girls

I raised my real-life Kayla to have the pride and the nobility of royalty. I raised her to know that she was special and that she needed to use her gifts, not only to achieve her dreams but to encourage others. The inspired version of her will be fun to watch because, in addition to all, I have mentioned she specializes in musical theater, which is very popular among kids and families right now.

A princess is a queen in training. A queen is the reigning female of her family- regarded as the most outstanding in a particular sphere or group- is what the dictionary says. How better does a young girl figure out her place in the world than by watching her mother proudly proclaim hers? Girls become strong by witnessing the challenges of their mothers. It is life training in real-time and was the case for my daughter and me.

Moms who work outside the home tend to feel guilty about the hours they dedicate to their professional careers and goals. I know for sure that Kayla learned to follow her dreams by watching me chase mine. She is truly my butterfly.

It has been fun to watch her dreams come to life. It has been fun to watch her fly.

With a happy heart, I am moving on releasing the new and updated version of this young princess’s journey because I know it will be a fun ride filled with pride for you and your loved ones too.

Please share it with girls of all backgrounds who need to be encouraged to follow their hearts- even when it is not the popular decision.

About Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess


Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess is a heartwarming story about family, role models, dreams, and discovering a determination for growth. The first in a five-part series, this diverse picture book shines the spotlight on a little brown girl who loves musical theatre and never lets anything get in the way of her dreams. Everyone else has an idea of who she should be, but in the end, she discovers that she is the one who gets to decide.

The story also reveals the very special family dynamic that Kayla shares with her mom-a a hardworking woman who struggles with the guilt of not being as available for her young daughter as she would like. But as the story progresses, Kayla and her mom realize the impact of valuing the time they have together as well as the importance of seeing each other acknowledge (and pursue) their individual dreams. {ages 5 and up}

      “Daughters learn their place in the world by watching their mothers claim theirs.” ~author Deedee Cummings

Books One and Two in the Kayla series will be released in the Spring of 2021.  

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 15 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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