Happy Women's History Month!
Anyone who has any contact with children is aware of the incredible popularity of Disney’s Frozen. One of the movie’s appeals is the strong female characters, sisters named Anna and Elsa, who save themselves in the end instead of being saved by a prince. If you’re ready to take a break from Elsa and Anna and discover more stories of strong girl characters, read on! The month of March, which is Women’s History Month, provides the perfect opportunity to share some empowering stories of a variety of girl characters. Here are some of my favorites.
The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
This picture book starts out as any fairy tale might. There’s a beautiful princess named Elizabeth, a prince named Ronald, and a plan to get married, but things go very wrong. Elizabeth has to outsmart a dragon to save Ronald and in the process she loses her beautiful gown and has to wear a paper bag for a dress. After all this she looks more like Oscar the Grouch than a princess. Ronald is less than appreciative of Elizabeth’s efforts and disheveled appearance and tells her so. She answers him, “You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.” And she dances happily off into the sunset, alone, in her paper bag dress.
Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch
Grace loves hearing, reading, and acting out stories. At school she has the opportunity to audition for the part of Peter Pan in the class play, but she feels discouraged after her classmates tell her she can’t. She’s not a boy, for one, and she’s black. But Grace isn’t the kind of girl who likes to be told what she can and can’t do. After her grandmother takes her to see a Romeo and Juliet ballet performance with a black Juliet, Grace tells herself, “I can be anything I want.” She proves it to herself when she gets the role of Peter Pan and wows all her classmates.
Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke
In this graphic novel, Zita and her friend Joseph see a strange object fall from the sky. It turns out to be a large red button that, when pushed, opens a portal to a world across the universe. Poor Joseph gets pulled into the portal by some mysterious tentacles, and there’s nothing Zita can do except jump right in after him to rescue him. In the alien world she befriends a horse-sized mouse, several robots, and a big lumpy thing named Strong-Strong, all of whom help her find Joseph and send him home. In the end, this sci-fi adventure is really a story of friendship and loyalty.
Moldylocks and the Three Beards, by Noah Z. Jones
This chapter book is another twist on a classic fairytale in which Princess Pink (first name Princess, last name Pink) falls into an alternate fairytale universe called the Land of Fake-Believe. Princess Pink hates pink and princesses but loves things like dirty sneakers, giant bugs, and mud puddles, which is fortunate because the Land of Fake Believe is full of gross and strange characters. There’s Mother Moose, green Moldylocks, talking Beards, spiders, and a creature called a Tunacorn who smells like “a dirty gym sock stuffed with fish sticks.” I’ll let you read the details yourself, but Princess Pink ends up having to save Moldylocks from being cooked in a giant pot of chili by the Three Beards. And this is only the first silly adventure in the “Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe” series.
Find these books and ask a librarian for more suggestions at your local branch!
This month's children's book reviews were written by Ruth Gilbert, who is the Children’s Librarian at the Whitman Branch. Join her at a clay workshop on Saturday, March 14, 2015, at 2:00 p.m., when the Clay Mobile visits the Whitman Library.