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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Literary heroines

I've been musing about the books I read as a child. It's my neice's 8th birthday soon and she loves reading but seems to be stuck on the drivel that is the rainbow fairy series. OK, I haven't read any of the rainbow series but her mum is sick of it. The only time she was excited about it was when we saw a girl on the tube in Japan reading Japanese rainbow fairy drivel. Whilst I'm keen to encourage my neice to read, I'd like her to branch out so, on the recommendation of some ravelers, bought Earwig and the Witch.
I didn't realise it would be hardback, and it's such a lovely presentation that I couldn't resist reading it myself.  The writing is big and there are wonderful illustrations and it's about a young girl who can make people do everything she wants to do. It's a great book but I hope it doesn't give my neice too many naught ideas.

If Earwig and the Witch is pitched too young, then the next book I ordered may be pitched a little high but I hope she enjoys a more challenging read.
I also bought The Name of This Book is Secret, which has an 11 year old girl as its heroine.  She's interesting, smart, tough, brave, kind, makes mistakes and learns to say sorry and how to lie to her mother.  When she's older, I'll introduce her to The Hunger Games and later The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, although it's hard to imagine that point in the future when those books will be suitable.  I'm sure it will come round far too quickly.

I'm not sure how many role models I read when I was young and I know there were dreadful ones in the films I watched.  Save me prince this and rescue me prince that. Suprisingly, Enid Blyton may have created the best characters, from the Five Find Outers series to the Adventure series to the almost identikit Secret Seven mysteries.  The Naughtiest Girl at School was probably the most interesting.  I remember wading through all the Willard Price books at the local library and by the end being rather disappointed there were no female characters.  I read Fellowship of the Ring when I was 9 and I think it was the first book I'd read where a main character died.  I remember so vividly the image of Boromir with arrows in his chest, while sitting in Mrs Adams's classroom.  There weren't really any girls in that, either, although a couple of Elves dropped by briefly.

As an adult, there are many more books where the woman is in the driving seat, but they're often uninspiring too. I did read a whole book this weekend with one of my favourite heroines, Deaadlocked.  Sure, it's about vampires, werewolves and southern fried food, but when you get past the supernatural side of it, Sookie is a strong woman.  She goes through a lot of crazy troubles and is often alone in her world, but still she gets out of bed every day and pastes a smile on her face. She doesn't let people push her around, earns a living, occasionally shots people but only ever in self-defence, and at least once in my life, I've found a way to keep going by asking myself What Would Sookie Stackhouse Do?

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At 8:26 PM, Blogger Barleygold said...

Haha! I think that's a better maxim than 'What would Chuck Berry do?'. Lo-oo-oo-ve Dianna Wynne Jones. Your niece might like Fire and Hemlock too. What about Bogwoppit by Ursula Moray Williams or Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning? Love the new cardi too, looks fab. :)


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