My Convertible Life

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday's Five: Strong Girl Books

In keeping with what has become this week's theme, today's list looks at children's books with strong girl characters in them. I've noticed that these books often kill off the mother of said strong girl as part of the set-up for the story -- as if having a mother around automatically makes you weak and submissive.

For example, Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is the story of a young princess who learns to joust and ride even better than her brothers and ultimately gets to choose her own husband (instead of being married off) because of her unmatched skill and strength. It's a great story except for the very beginning where her mother dies in childbirth delivering her -- I mean, really, was there NO other way to set-up the story so that the princess could learn to kick some butt?

So when I find a good story with a strong girl who still has her mother, I'm hooked. Here are five that I love:
  1. Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole: Princess Smartypants doesn't want to get married, but her parents insist -- so she sets up some impossible tasks for potential suitors (including Prince Swashbuckle, who almost wins her hand, but then, well, I don't want to spoil the ending).
  2. Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer: Same author as Princess Knight, but this time the mom is not only alive, she's a bad-ass -- and her daughter is pretty tough and clever, too.
  3. Stella and Roy Go Camping by Ashley Wolff: On the surface, this is a straightforward story about a family camping trip where the kids look at animal tracks. But blended into the tale is the fact that their mom (not their dad) takes them camping and the big sister isn't a wuss about the hike.
  4. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch and Michael Martchenko: When a dragon abducts her prince fiance, Princess Elizabeth sets off to rescue him, outsmarts the dragon and learns something important about her betrothed (and herself) in the process.
  5. Stella, Star of the Sea by Mary-Louise Gay: No princesses or princes, but just one smart, fearless little girl with a big imagination -- and she's persistent enough to get her brother through his nerves and into the ocean.
Have some favorites you'd like to share? Or some other complaints about why authors are ditching all the mommies in strong girl books? Let me know...


  1. Agree on the whole mother thing in books and movies. Really, what is up with that?

    I think you'd be interested in Great Books for Girls. It is a reference book I consulted often in choosing books for the kids at work:

  2. Great list! I'll have to refer to it when the Munchkinis ready for longer books! :)


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