Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of Female Adventurers, or: You Go, Girl!

The other day, a third grader was lamenting the fact that all the great adventure stories have boys as main characters. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Charlie Bone. She likes the stories but she wanted more adventures with female main characters. I couldn't agree with her more and I commiserated with her as I also love adventure stories. I handed her Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday because we happened to be standing in the FIC S section. I hope she likes it.

I know what you are thinking. You're thinking there are lots of great adventure books with female main characters. Laura Ingalls, Alice (of Wonderland), Dorothy Gale, Pippi Longstocking. But do we have to go back 60+ years to find female adventurers? Now I mean no disrespect to Judy Moody, Allie Finkel, Ramona Quimby, or Clementine. These are all terrific characters but they are not grand adventurers. And I know they are out there, they just didn't come to the top of my head at that moment the way the boy adventurers do. So I thought I had better make a list. So here it is, all of these books can be found in the Marshall Lane Library.

The first half of this list are books that I have read and enjoyed

The Golden Compass (and its sequels), by Philip Pullman: Fantasy-Adventure "Lyra Balacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subjects of gruesome experiments in the Far North."

The Firework-Maker's Daughter, also by Philip Pullman: Fantasy-Adventure "In a country far tot he east, Chulak and his talking white elephant Hamlet help Lila seek the Royal sulphur from the sacred volcano so that she can become a master maker of fireworks like her father."

The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex: Science Fiction-Adventure "When her mother is abducted by aliens on Christmas Eve (or "Smekday" Eve since the Boov invasion), 11 year old Tip (short for Gratuity) hops in the family car and heads south to find her and meets an alien Boov mechanic (named J-Lo) who agrees to help her and save the planet from disaster.

Clemency Pogue, Fairy Killer (and sequels), by J. T. Petty: Fantasy-Adventure "Clever and resourceful Clemency must travel the world to reanimate fairies she has accidentally killed by proclaiming she does not believe in fairies.

Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell: Fantasy-Adventure "Middle Schooler Isabelle Bean follows a mouse's squeak into a closet and fall into a parallel universe where the children believe she is the witch they have feared for years, finally come to devour them.

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman: Fantasy-Adventure " Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others. (It's debatable whether this is actually an adventure but she does travel to another world and the story is exciting and Coraline is a very smart and strong character so I included it)

The Search for Wondla, by Tony DiTerlizzi: Science Fiction-Adventure "Living in isolation with arobot on what appears to be an alien world populated by bizarre life forms, a twelve-year-old human girl called Eva Nine sets out on a journey to find others like her.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi: Historic Fiction-Adventure "As the lone 'young lady' on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious.

Igraine the Brave, by Cornelia Funke: Fantasy-Adventure "The daughter of two magicians, twelve-year-old Igraine wants nothing more than to be a knight, and when their castle is attacked by a treacherous neighbor bent on stealing their singing magic books, Igraine has an opportunity to demonstrate her bravery.

The rest of this list are books I have not yet read.

The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes, by Kelly Easton and Greg Swearingen: "Ten-year-old Libby Aimes escapes her prison-like home by using a strange concoction of her father's, then tries to make her way to the boarding school of her dreams, aided by various people and animals.

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, by R. L. La Fevers, and Yoko Tanaka: Theo must return a legendary amulet to an ancient tomb in Egypt in order to avoid a black curse that threatens to crumble the British Empire.

The Dark Hills Divide (and its sequels), by Patrick Carman: Fantasy-Adventure "When she finds the key to a secret passageway leading out of the walled city of Bridewell, twelve-year-old Alexa realizes her lifelong wish to explore the mysterious forests and mountains that lie beyond the wall.

The Cry of the Icemark, by Stuart Hill: Fantasy-Adventure "Young princess Thirren of Icemark must form an alliance with others to protect her kingdom from being overrun by the army of general Scipio.

Savvy (and its sequel), by Ingrid Law: Fantasy-Adventure: "Recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her 'savvy' -- a magical power unique to each member of her family -- just as her father is injured in a terrible accident."

Stolen, by Vivian Vande Velde: Fantasy-Adventure "A girl finds herself running through the forest at the edge of a village with no memory of anything, even her own name, and later learns that she might be twelve-year-old Isabelle, believed to be stolen by a witch six years before.

And when you get to middle school, my dear third grader, be sure you read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

By no means is this list comprehensive. It's a start and it's specific to the ML library. If you have any suggestions to add to the list, please tell me all about it by leaving a comment! If you want a pdf copy of the list, contact me and I'll send it to you.

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