Monday, September 19, 2011

Fiction Full of Awesome

Last week, I confessed that I tried to "unawesome" my middle school daughter (read the horrible truth here).

We were having a bad morning. We were fighting about clothes. She was about to leave the house with her hair hanging defeatedly in front of her face.

With the help of an amazing blog post at Redefining Girly, I took a step back, changed tactics, and sent Miss J off to school laughing, with a list of all the awesome things she had done that morning.
Guest blogger and book reviewer Miss J :-)

The blog post, "Waking up Full of Awesome," struck a nerve with a lot of people. It was passed to me by an awesome lady, Miss J's fifth grade teacher and fellow girl-mom Nancy Black.

I love the idea of helping girls (even grown up girls) retain some of that "I don't care if my socks don't match, my hair rivals Pippi Longstocking's and I didn't learn my dance moves in ballet class" attitude that five-year-old girls exude.

Miss J is an avid reader, like her mom. Together, we put together a reading list -- our favorite "Full of Awesome" kids' lit heroines. These girls face obstacles, including people who want them to act like proper (or popular) girls. Nothing doing. Even when they try to put on airs, it doesn't last. The real girl, the awesome person inside, always breaks free.

Picture Books
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, Recommended by Laura

Chrysanthemum, a white mouse, starts the school year full of awesome. Her parents love her. She's got a fabulous, unique name. But the other girls don't think her name is so fabulous. Chrysanthemum has to learn how to get her awesome back.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Recommended by Laura

I had this book memorized by the time I was two. Madeline is not afraid of mice or hospitals. She says, "pooh-pooh" to lions. How awesome can you get?

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner, Recommended by Laura

Not a girl, not even a girl cat, but totally in touch with his inner awesome. This is a great read-aloud to share with all of your amazing kids.

Early Readers
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Recommended by Miss J

I like Fern Arable because she stands up to her father. She says that just because Wilbur is the runt of the litter, he shouldn't get killed. She takes on a great responsibility of taking care of a baby pig and makes animal friends along the way.

Junie B. Jones Series by Barbara Park, Recommended by Laura

I used to read these books aloud to my son. We both loved Junie B. What makes her so funny is her belief in herself, and how clueless she is when others try to guide her in the "right" direction.

Middle Grade (Grade 5 - 8)
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Recommended by Laura
Orphan Anne Shirley always tries to be good, but her love of adventure and her strong emotions keep her in the awesome zone. She never apologizes for being smart. She's funny. And every time I see the TV series on PBS, I love the series all over again. Come on, Miss J, you know you want to read this one!


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Recommended by Miss J


Even though Ella is cursed to be obedient, she finds a way to be herself. Despite dealing with her step-sisters, she shows her inner awesome and what a tomboy she can be. She stands up for herself and fights ogres.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Miss J and I visited Orchard House (post is here), where Little Women is set and was written, this summer. We learned a great deal about Louisa May Alcott, who modeled the character of Jo March after herself. Alcott was the best-selling author of her time, supporting her entire family. Jo is funny, strong, and won't marry her wealthy best friend because she trusts her inner voice. I re-read the book after our house tour. Loved it all over again.

The Mother Daughter Book Club Series by Heather Vogel Frederick, Recommended by Miss J
All of the girls in this series are awesome. They begin in sixth grade and each book follows the group of five friends through one year. At first the girls are reluctant about the book club, which their mothers cook up during yoga class. Through each book you learn more about the different characters, what they do and why that makes them special. In the second book, Much Ado about Anne (see Anne Shirley, above!) they work together to raise money so that one of the girls won't lose her home.


Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan, Recommended by Miss J
Annabeth is the daughter of Athena. I think Annabeth is awesome. She kind of stands up for herself and her friends. She doesn't let anyone boss her around. She follows her dream of becoming an architect. She has a lot of great adventures with Percy Jackson along the way. When a really close friend betrays her, Annabeth finds a way to kick butt.

Savvy by Ingrid Law, Recommended by Miss J
Mibs (Mississippi Beaumont) is awesome in her own special way. She's a unique kid from a unique family, who all have special abilities called savvies. She messes up a lot, but she finds a way to fix it and make things work. She's very determined.

I'll post YA recommendations later in the week. Miss J is not reading those books yet (with the exception of the final three Harry Potter books).

Have an awesome time reading!

UPDATE:

Miss J and I just got e-slapped by friend and fantasy author A.R. Rotruck for leaving off an important, very awesome, heroine: Eilonwy of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. The management apologizes for this egregious oversight. Eilonwy is smart, sassy and sure of herself without being a mean girl. She's everything we love in an awesome heroine.

Be sure to check the comments for more suggestions (thanks to my mom, writer and writer-mom friends). If you don't see your favorite awesome girl of fiction here, please put your recommendation in the comments.

5 comments:

Steph Silver said...

We're all about the awesome at my house - you would love Gray's collection of Tshirts that reflect his complete confidence that he is awesome. And Emily and I are enjoying several series of books featuring strong girls (hermione Granger only in movies so far for Em):

The Lily Quench series by Natalie Jane Pryor (Scholastic)

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

Thea Stilton books by Geronimo Stilton

And Anne of Green Gables - my favorite book ever - is just a drop in the L.M. Montgomery bucket - I highly recommend the Emily of New Moon trilogy she wrote as well!

Author Amok said...

Thanks for checking out the post, Steph. I'd love to hear more about Gray's shirts.

I'll definitely check out Lily Quench and Thea Stilton with Miss J. She LOVED the Sisters Grimm series. Michael Buckley was at the Baltimore Book Fest last year and I got one of our books signed!

J. hasn't tried Anne of Green Gables yet. When she does, we'll look at Emily of New Moon too.

Erin Hagar said...

Great post! How about Delphine in Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer? Sara Pennypacker's Clementine? Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl?

Such fun stuff to think about on a rainy Tuesday...

Author Amok said...

Hi, Erin. Thanks! Miss J will be reading One Crazy Summer for school book club this year. I'll have to ask her about Clementine (she read, I didn't). I'm going to put Stargirl on the YA list. For some reason, you've now got me thinking Judy Blume. Hmmm...

Author Amok said...

Got it! Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. Sheila Tubman seriously belongs to this list of awesome fictional heroines.
http://www.judyblume.com/books/fudge/sheila.php