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Adult Books
...for the Heartless Bitch in all of us

For budding Heartless Bitches and Socially Aware Sons

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Sept 29, 2008



"Jacob Have I Loved" - Katherine Paterson

Ages 9-12

This Newberry winner tells the story of Louise Bradshaw and her slightly younger twin sister, Caroline, who live with their parents and their God-fearing grandmother on a small island just off the Chesapeake Bay during the 1950's. Louise is consistently annoyed with the way Caroline uses her beauty and her charm (both of which exceed that of Louise) to get her way, and how so many people - including Louise's best (male) friend, Call - fall for it. She is also tired of how women are kept away from the duties of the "watermen." In the end, after deciding that staying on the island will never free her of her sister's shadow, she heads for the mountains on a journey of self-discovery.



"Reckless Ruby" - by Hiawyn Oram (Author), Tony Ross (Illustrator)

Ages 3-7

Ruby is so beautiful that when she grows up her mother expects that a prince will marry her, wrap her up in cotton wool and only bring her out for special occasions.

Appalled by this prediction, Ruby engages in steadily more reckless behaviour in an effort to drive away any princely suitors; much to the dismay of her friend Harvey.

Younger children might have to be warned not to emulate Ruby’s reckless actions (diving off rooftops into fishbowls comes to mind), but it is a clever little fable about holding on to your identity and has a cute twist at the end.



"Ariadne: The Maiden and The Minotaur" - by Jennifer Cook

Ages 9-12

You've heard about the Minotaur. You know, the terrifying bull-man who lived in that labyrinth in ancient Crete until Theseus went down there, killed the beast and became a hero? Well this is the story of the Minotaur's big sister, Ariadne, and she has a thing or two to say about this hero nonsense.

Ariadne begins with a girl, sixteen and dumped. Yes, it’s thousands of years ago and she’s on a stony island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, but that’s not the point. The point is she’s angry and from the get-go you know you don’t want to get in her way. Her heart may be broken, but she isn’t and from the story, you get the feeling she won’t be, no matter what the gods throw at her. She’ll get bruised and battered - she already has after all - but she’s the sort who cusses her head off at fate and keeps going. She may be the daughter of a king and the granddaughter of gods, but our Ari is no ‘princess’. Yes, as the blurb on the back and the prologue will tell you, she’s had it a bit rough the last few days and does need “a good lie down”, but you know, you just know, that she’s going to get up again and come out swinging.

The book consists of the story of the events that led Ariadne to this desolate island and is written in Ariadne’s voice. No hemming and hawing for this princess though. She calls a spade a spade and often much worse, and I have to say that the book deserves prizes for the inventiveness of the cussing alone. It is hilarious and so real that you forget at times that you’re actually in “Mythical Greece”.

And that’s the beauty of it. Behind the hilarity and the fantastically indignant voice that Jennifer Cook wields so effortlessly is the incredibly meticulous and ultimately convincing retelling - re-weaving, really - of a story as old as Western culture. It is fascinating to watch as the King and Queen of Crete, for example, are shown not just in all their terrible mythical glory but in their role as parents. Cook explores the relationship that Pasiphae and Minos have with their daughter and, for the first time, you see them as real people with real problems and worries and duties and obligations and fears and jealousies and all the rest of it. You see how they (and by extension, we) set traps for themselves and paint themselves into corners. But while you’re reading all this, somehow, at the same time, Cook makes sure you are aware of the politics at work, of the cultural landscape of the age.

Ultimately, yes, this is a book about a girl finding her way into womanhood and working out her relationship with her mother, with her legacy, with other women, and with what it means to be a woman in any age. That’s plenty already, but Ariadne manages to be more than that as well. By the time you read the last page you’ve traveled so far and back that it’s hard to believe the book is actually only 200 pages long. There’s the incredible tale of the Minotaur and the story of Theseus’s battle with the beast, there’s the story of Ariadne’s sister Phaedra and their relationship, there’s the story of how Ariadne ends up on the island. And then there’s the ‘real’ version of all these events, as told by an Ariadne who will brook no romanticized nonsense in the telling of her tale.

This is a book that I would recommend not just to children but to grown women as well. If a kick to the frontal lobe is what you're after, this book will deliver it, no question.



"Magic or Madness (Magic or Madness Trilogy)" - by Justine Larbalestier


(Young Adult) (Winner of the Andre Norton Book Award)

From Amazon.com:
For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived a life on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But when Sarafina suffers a breakdown, Reason is forced to move in with her grandmother in Sydney. The moment Reason walks through Esmeralda's back door and finds herself on a New York City street, she's confronted by an unavoidable truth-magic is real.
This thrilling novel will bring readers through revelation upon revelation, leading to Reason's ultimate discovery of the price she must pay if she uses her magic.



"A Wrinkle In Time" - by Madeline L'Engle

(ages 9-12)

This book won the Newbery Medal, the Sequoyah Book Award, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. It is the first in L'Engle's series of books about the Murry and O'Keefe families.

This is a science-fiction book with an anti-communist allegorical tone that In this classic and wonderful book, Meg, a 13-year-old awkward, underachieving but geeky young girl, is sent with a friend and her young brother on a dangerous mission to rescue her father. She stays true to her self, learns self-confidence and ends up kicking butt and bringing everyone back hale and whole.

This book resonates profoundly with the young women who read it in the 60's and 70's (first published in 1962), and still is a powerful and entertaining story. It influenced lots of geeky girls to stay true (or as true as possible) to themselves when growing up. (Interestingly enough, her mother is portrayed as brilliant scientist - something not seen in books of that era).



"Harry Potter (entire series)" - by J.K. Rowling

(ages 9-12)

This series is a must for young girls, because of strong female characters, but in my opinion because of GINNY WEASLEY. At 11 years old Ginny Weasley is mentally and emotionally raped/abused through an enchanted diary by the wizarding world's most evil maniac and criminal, for an entire first year at Hogwarts. She survives it, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, with a Heartlessly Bitchy, new-found attitude, spunk and fiestiness to boot. She embodies the "I will not be a victim" attitude.

The girl is seriously magically powerful, gutsy and tough, doesn't take "no" for an answer, keeps her brothers in line, won't let anybody boss over her (whether parents, brothers/boyfriends). From the age of 6, she used to steal her brothers broomsticks (when her brothers/parents weren't watching), from the broom shed, to practice 'Quidditch' on her own (it's kind of like football in the Wizarding World) as her brothers used to not allow her to play Qudditch just because she happens to be a girl (and later on in school, she joins the Gryffindor Quidditch team in her 4th year at Hogwarts, contrary to everyone's surprise, and happens to be one of the best players).

She isn't scared to stand up to Harry, put him in his place, and tell him indirectly to control himself and shut his mouth when he is throwing around a temper tantrum (something that his friends Hermione and Ron tried, but didn't succeed, it only tended to aggravate Harry more and almost became physically abusive with Hermione. This particular scene is in the 5th book, i.e., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.) She has a no-nonsense attitude. She happens to be one of the most forceful female characters that i have seen in the harry potter series. All in all, Ginny Weasley Rocks My Socks!


Buy it Now!

"Boy Proof" - by CECIL CASTELLUCCI

Gr. 7-10.

Victoria is brilliant, alternative (shaved head, multiply-pierced ears and cloak), and deeply into Science Fiction. She has seen her favorite movie 42 times and insists that people call her by her favorite character's name, Egg. She is friendless in her senior class at highschool in Hollywood, but that doesn't matter. She has accepted that she will never be normal, and spends her spare time working with her father doing movie special effects. But then she falls for a boy who has an interest in SF, and shows her that she can find things to interest her on planet earth. But is he too good to be true? Can a girl "fit in" and still be true to herself?


Buy it Now!

"The Book of Dragons" - by E. Nesbit, H. R. Millar (Illustrator), Herbert Granville Fell (Illustrator)

Ages 9-12

Edith Nesbit was a feminist writer of the Victorian era (she may qualify as an HB as well). Her fairy tales are irreverent of cultural norms (many of which are continue to the current age) and full of strong female characters. Heartless Bitches in training are certain to enjoy these tales.


Buy it Now!

"Coraline" - by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator)

Ages 9-12

From Amazon.com
Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and the mustachioed old man under the roof ("'The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,' said the man upstairs, 'is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed.'") Coraline contents herself for weeks with exploring the vast garden and grounds. But with a little rain she becomes bored--so bored that she begins to count everything blue (153), the windows (21), and the doors (14). And it is the 14th door that--sometimes blocked with a wall of bricks--opens up for Coraline into an entirely alternate universe. Now, if you're thinking fondly of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you're on the wrong track. Neil Gaiman's Coraline is far darker, far stranger, playing on our deepest fears. And, like Roald Dahl's work, it is delicious.

What's on the other side of the door? A distorted-mirror world, containing presumably everything Coraline has ever dreamed of... people who pronounce her name correctly (not "Caroline"), delicious meals (not like her father's overblown "recipes"), an unusually pink and green bedroom (not like her dull one), and plenty of horrible (very un-boring) marvels, like a man made out of live rats. The creepiest part, however, is her mirrored parents, her "other mother" and her "other father"--people who look just like her own parents, but with big, shiny, black button eyes, paper-white skin... and a keen desire to keep her on their side of the door. To make creepy creepier, Coraline has been illustrated masterfully in scritchy, terrifying ink drawings by British mixed-media artist and Sandman cover illustrator Dave McKean. This delightful, funny, haunting, scary as heck, fairy-tale novel is about as fine as they come. Highly recommended. (Ages 11 and older) --Karin Snelson


Buy it Now!

"Horace and Morris but Mostly Delores" - by James Howe

Ages 4-8

Horace, Morris and Delores are adventurous mouse pals, but one day the boys join a boys only club. Delores is finds a girls-only club, but finds the traditionally feminine cheese-related things they do to be wholly unsatisfying. She tries to fit in for awhile, but then leads a revolt to do things that interest her: bringing other dissatisfied mouse buddies, reuniting with Horace and Morris... and meeting new folks like Boris and Doris. Dolores is a true heroine!


Buy it Now!

"Sheila Rae, the Brave" - by Kevin Henkes (Illustrator)

Ages 4-8

From Amazon.com:
Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything. She walks backwards with her eyes closed, steps on every crack, growls at stray dogs, and bares her teeth at stray cats. But when Sheila Rae becomes lost on the way home from school, it is her "scaredy cat" sister, Louise, who shows her a thing or two about bravery and sibling love.


Buy it Now!

"Great Books For Girls : More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women" - by KATHLEEN ODEAN

A guide for parents and educators looking for books "about girls who defy the stereotypes about females in our culture." Reviews of 600 titles, ranging from picture-story books for toddlers to biographies and novels for adolescents that depict girls and women who are self-sufficient, decisive, and assertive.


Buy it Now!

"Kira-Kira (Newbery Medal Book)" - by Cynthia Kadohata

Ages 9-12

From Amazon.com:
kira-kira (kee' ra kee' ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering -- kira-kira -- in the future.


Buy it Now!

"All the King's Horses" - by Michael Foreman

A great but rare feminist children's fable, published way back in 1976.

An asian king wants his strong willed beautiful princess to marry a man -but the princess doesn't want to she prefers to ride horses and explore the world. Eventually she agrees to marry but only to man she cannot defeat in a wrestling match, and for every man she defeats he agrees 100 horses shall be set free from the kingdom. The King rallies up men, warriors, wrestlers, strongmen etc. She fights them all, muscleman after muscleman is tossed from the ring with bruises, broken limbs, and blackeyes. Until her final suitor a handsome musclebound woodcutter wanting to marry the princess to free his faily from poverty steps into the ring. Instead of trying fighting the princess he tries to woo her, does she give in to his romantic advancements? NO WAY!!! in true heartless bitch fashion she saves her best till last and making him suffer the most embarrising defeat of all. The book ends with all the men in the kingdom having been beaten and all the horses being released.


Buy it Now!

"The Courageous Princess" - by Rod Espinosa

(ages 4=8)
"The Courageous Princess" tells the story of Mabelrose, princess of a small and not particularly wealthy kingdom in a world covered by fairy tale lands. Her parents adore her and have raised her to be down to earth and adventurous. Mabelrose is pretty, but not beautiful and when she attends a ball at a nearby kingdom, she is outshone by the beautiful princesses and mocked by them for her simple clothing and lack of jewels. But when a young prince's frog gets loose in the ball, she's the only one who doesn't scream and run. Shortly after she returns home she is kidnapped by a dragon who has a thing for princesses.

At first, Mabelrose prays for a prince to come and rescue her, but when the dragon mocks her by saying no prince would rescue a second-rate princess like her, she decides to stop waiting. She steals several magical objects and some gold and jewels from the dragon's hoarde and sets off. She meets a talking porcupine, Spiky, in the briars guarding the castle and he becomes her friend and travels with her. She also has a magical rope that helps her, but she doesn't believe Spiky when he tells her it's alive.

They head off for home but are pursued by the dragon, and run into further adventures. They hide out in a Munken village, but have to leave when the dragon threatens it. Then they befriend a talking boar and travel to the land of the Leptians, bipedal talking animals who look down on regular talking animals like Spiky. They are taken captive by the Leptian ruler, a tiger in the service of the dragon. Threatened by the Tiger king, she frees herself and the entire kingdom which he controlled by means of a magical flute. At the end of the book, she decides to stay awhile with her friends in Leptia, unaware that her father is traveling to save her from the dragon.

This gorgeous graphic novel is a combined, hardcover edition of the three previous paperback graphic novels. The illustrations are more reminiscent of the watercolors in a children's book than the lurid illustrations in a superhero comic. It is a beautifully crafted story of a strong, unspoiled girl, the friends she makes and the adventures she has. Mabelrose is an excellent model for any child, brave, smart, kind and not the least bit spoiled or snobbish. Her parents are also wonderful, happy and intelligent people and it is clear how Mabelrose turned out as well as she did. I can't wait to see Mabelrose's further adventures and what happens to her parents.


Buy Underground from Amazon.ca now!

"Underground to Canada" - by Barbara Smucker

Ages 10-12
Cruelly separated from her mother at the age of 12, Julilly must find her way to Canada and freedom, via the Underground railroad. Julilly finds strength, courage and a growing sense of self-worth along the very difficult journey. Barbara Smucker presents the horrors and reality of slavery without becoming gruesome, and also realistically portrays that the lives of ex-slaves in Canada was not easy.


Buy Horace and Morris...(From Amazon.ca) now!

"Horace and Morris but Mostly Delores" - by James Howe

Ages 4-8
Horace, Morris and Delores are adventurous mouse pals, but one day the boys join a boys only club. Delores is finds a girls-only club, but finds the traditionally feminine cheese-related things they do to be wholly unsatisfying. She tries to fit in for awhile, but then leads a revolt to do things that interest her: bringing other dissatisfied mouse buddies, reuniting with Horace and Morris... and meeting new folks like Boris and Doris. Dolores is a true heroine!



"The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women" - by Katrin Tchana, Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

(ages 4-8)
From Amazon.com:
"Nothing is more satisfying than watching a valiant hero conquer a dragon, outwit a thief, or destroy a monstrous cannibal--unless it's seeing an intrepid heroine accomplish all these brave feats! In this remarkable anthology by the mother-daughter team of Trina Schart Hyman and Katrin Tchana, 18 stories showcase the courage, cleverness, and integrity of women who dare to go beyond their traditional roles and stand up for themselves and their people. Gleaned from fairy tales from around the world and retold by Tchana to make them "more vivid and vital to her audience," the stories include the tale of Li Chi, a 14-year-old girl who refuses to let a greedy sorcerer continue to sacrifice young girls to a horrible serpent. Clever Marcela is so cunning, she manages to outsmart a king--and fall in love while she's at it. Then there's Amarjit, the barber's wife, who, fed up with her handsome husband's laziness, manages to take matters in her own hands and create fabulous wealth from nothing. Caldecott Award-winner Trina Schart Hyman (Saint George and the Dragon) paints spectacular illustrations, worthy of their esteemed role in capturing both the noble and the grotesque.

--Emilie Coulter"


Buy Wee Free Men Now!

"Wee Free Men" - by Terry Pratchett

(Ages 9-12)
Tiffany Aching is nine and she has already decided to become a witch, partly because she doesn't think witches must be wicked just because the fairy tales say they are. Unfortunately, Tiffany isn't going to get years of study or practice to become a witch. She is recruited by the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men of the title, a group of hard-drinking, thieving blue-skinned warriors six inches high who recognize her as a witch and want her to fight the fairy Queen. The Queen has been encroaching on Tiffany's home county and then has the nerve to steal Tiffany's little brother.

Tiffany doesn't like her little brother much, but he's HERS and she's darned if she's going to let someone else steal him. So she sets off to fairy land with the Nac Mac Feegle and an iron skillet for protection to fight the Queen and take her brother back. Her only other skills are what the book calls "The First Sight and the Second Thoughts" which means she sees things as they really are and always has a voice inside her head that watches what she does and questions it.

What is great about this book is that it says that thinking for yourself and questioning the way society tells you to think is what girls should be doing. Tiffany doesn't like the way fairy tales try to tell her how to live so she questions their version of the world and acts on what she thinks is right. She is also taught by everyone she meets that the best way out of her problems is to think them through and act. This is shown most clearly in the advice that an adult witch gives Tiffany early in the book.

"Now [ ] if you trust in yourself [ ] and believe in your dreams [ ] and follow your star [ ] you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy."

This book is an antidote to all the drivel in fairy tales and the fluffy, feel good, follow your bliss messages that girls are fed these days. It says to make up your own mind what's real and take action to deal with things, two excellent messages.


Buy Sugar Isn't Everything Now!

"Sugar Isn't Everything" - by Willo Davis Roberts

(Ages 9-12)
Amy, age 11, leaves elementary school and life changes almost immediately: she faints in a grocery store after noticing some uncomfortable changes in herself (crabbiness with her loving family, constant tiredness, wetting the bed) and wakes up in the hospital to find she has been diagnosed as diabetic.

The entire family has to make changes to help her, especially to their diet. She made friends in the hospital, but it's so frustrating to have diabetes while your whole family is healthy. She slowly comes to terms with the condition and even helps a rebellious-but-good-natured boy from the hospital do the same.

It has a glossary in the back and explains diabetic terms very clearly. A lot of heart and understanding went into this novel (Roberts is diabetic).


Buy Daughters.. Now!

"Daughters of the Moon, Sisters of the Sun: Young Women & Mentors on the Transition to Womanhood" - by Neva Welton and Linda Wolf

(Young Adult)
This is the MOST awesome book for teen girls and women AND guys, so that they can find out what radical bitches are really like! It's the stories of 21 teen girls from Bainbridge Island and Kitsap County in Washington, who came together for 2 years in a girls talking circle, where they were safe to tell the truth about themselves and their lives and in the process create sustainable relationships with each other and learn the skills that nurture self-esteem, connection, acceptance and LOVE! Check out what Jean Kilbourne says about it...(that's how we came across your site)

"I’ve been involved with The Daughters-Sisters Project for several years, and currently am the president of the Board. The project appeals to me for many reasons. For one thing, I feel that we live in a culture in which we’re surrounded by lies. People lie to all us the time; politicians lie to us, corporate executives lie to us, advertisers lie to us constantly, about the nature of happiness, about what makes a woman beautiful or sexy, about what makes a relationship good and lasting, about what a marriage should be-- we’re just surrounded by lies. And I feel that, we, all of us, have a kind of inner wisdom that tells us that we’re being lied to. We know on some level that we’re being lied to. But when you’re surrounded by lies, it can make you crazy. I feel that this affects all of us really deeply, and perhaps particularly it effects young people, who haven’t lost touch as much with that inner wisdom, and who understand that this is a world in which there are many lies. And the craziness, I think, can drive them to all kinds of self-destructive behaviors, to drugs, to alcohol, to cutting, to eating disorders, to meaningless sex, to all kinds of things.

More than ever, I think what we’re hungry for, really starved for, is the truth. To hear the truth, and also to have a safe place where we can speak the truth, and share the truth of our experience. This is crucial for all of us. It’s crucial for older people, for younger people, it’s crucial for men and for women. But I do feel that it may be especially crucial for girls, because girls, more than anyone else it seems to me, are denied the truth of their experience, and are told, and learn at an early age as they hit adolescence, that it’s not safe to speak their truth and to be who they are. So, what could be more important than a safe space in which girls can get together and really talk about the truth of their lives and the truth of their experience. I think it’s profoundly important and profoundly healing, for these girls, and ultimately, in a wider sense, for all of us."

Also check out www.daughters-sisters.org


Buy Homecoming NOW!

"Homecoming" - by Cynthia Voigt

(ages 13-16)
13-year-old Dicey Tillerman has to hold her younger brothers and sisters together after being abandoned by their mentally-ill mother in a parking lot. They attempt to travel by foot on the open road to stay with a relative they believe they might be able to find, as they are dodging the authorities in order to avoid being split up in foster care. Dicey is probably one of the strongest characters I can think of from a book, male or female. The stories are gritty, and nothing is made easy for them, and yet the sheer determination of Dicey carries them through.


Buy Fearless Girls now!

"Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World" - by Kathleen Ragan (Editor), Jane Yolen

From Amazon.com:
One hundred great folk tales and fairy tales from all over the world about strong, smart, brave heroines. A definitive sourcebook of folktales and fairytales and the first of its kind to feature a variety of multicultural heroines. The book is filled with courageous mothers, clever young girls, and warrior women who save villages from monsters, rule wisely over kingdoms, and outwit judges, kings, and tigers. Gathered from around the world, from regions as diverse as sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe, from North and South American Indian cultures and New World settlers, from Asia and the Middle East, these 100 folktales celebrate strong female heroines. This book will appeal to parents who want to foster positive role models for their children. An invaluable resource of multicultural heroines for any school library.


Buy Not One Damsel in Distress now!

"Not One Damsel in Distress : World Folktales for Strong Girls" - by by Jane Yolen (Author), Susan Guevara (Illustrator)

From Amazon.com:
These thirteen folktales have one thing in common: brainy, brawny, brave heroines-and not one damsel in distress! From Bradamante, the fierce female medieval knight, to Li Chi, the Chinese girl who slays a dreaded serpent and saves her town, these heroines use their cunning, wisdom, and strength to succeed.

Drawing from diverse cultures around the world, renowned author Jane Yolen celebrates the smart, strong, and sassy heroines of legend and lore in a collection that will encourage bravery in every girl.


The Agony of Alice

"The Alice series" - by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

(ages: 11-13)

The Alice boooks are typically for pre-teens but I'm 18 and I still relish the moment that the newest Alice book hits the shelf at the local bookstore. The Alice books are a coming of age series about a girl named Alice McKinley and her 2 best friends Pamela and Elizabeth and the trials and tribulations they face during their turbulent teen years. I began reading Alice in 6th grade and I am hooked. I have laughed and cried over these books, and I'm not talking polite library laughter, I mean the belly busting kind where my little brother in the next room asks what on earth I am laughing at. I have cringed in embarrassment for Alice. The books deal with real and relevant issues like school bullies, teen suicide, heart break, child abuse, body issues that teen girls face, and a wide array of subjects that pertain to teens in a sensitive, heart felt, and comical way. The series feels real. Alice could be the girl next door or she could be you. It's not really heartless, but it's empowering and informative. It's the kind of book you read that answers the questions about growing up that you never wanted to ask your mom with lots of laughs along the way. The best thing about this series is that it continues through Alice's adult life. Alice isn't a wipmy girl, and she isn't miss perfect, she deals with issues honestly and openly. I feel that I have done sufficient ranting far superior to "it rocks" and I really hope you will take a look at these books.

The series includes:

The Agony of Alice
Alice in Rapture, Sort Of
Reluctantly Alice
All But Alice
Alice in April
Alice In-Between
Alice the Brave
Alice in Lace
Outrageously Alice
Achingly Alice
Alice on the Outside
The Grooming of Alice
Alice Alone
Simply Alice


The Dragon and the Unicorn

"The Dragon and the Unicorn" - by Lynne Cherry

(ages 4-8)
This is a medieval fairy tale with a young heroine, Princess Arianna, who braves the mysterious forest alone, befriends the mythical animals who live within it, and in realizing the destruction her own father, the King, is inflicting upon land, convinces him to save the forest, acknowledge it's beauty, and to live in harmony with it.

Lynne Cherry is known for her environmental children's literature, and this story does reinforce those beliefs quite heavily. Now this may cause a cringe in the Ayn Rand devotees, but I found the story to have a very empowering message besides. Venturing into the unknown of a dark forest, following her intuition, and confronting the King (and father) with her truth for the good of all.

Out of print at amazon.com... look for it at your local library.

"The Kingdom of Kevin Malone" - by Suzy McKee Charnas

(young adult)
From the author:

I wrote this book in response to people out west (I moved to Albuquerque 30+ yrs ago) telling me how sorry they were for me because I had grown up in Manhattan (which as far as I am concerned was a superb childhood largely *because* of its complexity and challanges). So here's Amy, depressed by the untimely death of her favorite cousin, snatched by magic into the fantasy world that her worst enemy, the boy who was her neighborhood bully, has created and managed to escape into for real. Kevin's fantasy land, the Faire Farre, is a wild-eyed mish-mash of bits from his fantasy reading, but it has twisted into its own shape and is bent on destroying him, and it's up to Amy to decide whether to help him by retrieving his magic sword (in our world, an old Swiss Army knife) and getting it to him in time. She thinks he's a jerk and a scuzzball, but she's intrigued as well as scared by the fantasy world which is mapped on New York's Central Park, and she and a couple of her friends are caught up as major players upon whose courage, strength, and intelligence the fate of Kevin's world depends. Amy, Rachel and Claudia are not perfect by any means, but they rise to the challenge; but though Kevin learns a lot from them, he is left at the end to deal with the consequences of his own actions while the girls choose to return to their own lives.

Come to think of it, I also wrote this to take another look at the bully-situation as I had in fact experienced it myself, when I was a kid on 83rd Street. I gave Amy the courage and resourcefulness that I wish I had had, faced with my own "Kevin". She does just fine with them.


Deal With It!

"Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a Gurl" - by Esther Drill, Heather McDonald, Rebecca Odes

(young adult)
Reader comment: "My 11 year old asked me to buy this EXTREMELY comprehensive "reference" book for her...and while some of the subject matter may be beyond her current "need to know" ... my husband and I agreed that the content was presented in a way that she might actually read it and not just look at it as some boring old book that the 'rents made her read. This is WAY more interesting than the old "Our Bodies Ourselves" book from when I had my own questions..."

  

The "Once Upon A time When the Princess(tm)" series - by Rosemary Lake

Smart princesses who do the rescuing, clever ordinary girls, and creative story telling. Now has 32 stories to read online for free, plus a paperback volume you can purchase. (If you buy the book, tell Rosemary that you read about it at Heartless Bitches International)


Buy In the Company of Men NOW!

"In The Company of Men: A Woman at The Citadel" - by Nancy Mace

(ages 9-13)
In 1999, at age 21, Nancy Mace became the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, South Carolina Military College, kicking in the 153 year old male-only status of the school.

The Citadel first became open to women in 1995 after a three year court battle, to let in Shannon Faulkner, who sued the school for retracting her admission after they found out that she was not, in fact, a boy, as they had first thought (Shannon being a name for boys as well as girls). Faulkner only ended up staying a week, puking and exhausted, saying she couldn't take the stress and isolation; her classmates whooped and cheered when she left, relieved at being able to return to their safe, unthreatened boys-only world. The media of course, just focused on the fact that she had only lasted a week, despite the fact that many of her male peers hadn't stuck it out any longer. The scandal that followed Faulkner's leaving caused the school to undergo changes in its sexist attitude, though four years later there was still plenty of resentment from the male cadets towards Nancy, who excluded her from the standing ovation given to other cadets... though many of them did clap politely.

It's hard as hell to graduate The Citadel, but even harder and more hellish being the only girl in a male-oriented school, resented by most of her class mates. But, Mace toughed it out for three grueling years taking accelerated classes, and actually graduated a year early, with honors. Mace believes she helped pave a path for women in the world of military colleges, but she doesn't consider herself a 'pioneer'; either way, Nancy Mace is one hell of a tough woman, and one extremely heartless bitch.


Buy True Confessions now!

True Confessions of a Heartless Girl - by Martha Brooks
(Young Adult)
Winner of the 2002 Canadian Governor General's Award for children's literature. Yet another of Brooks' edgy young adult fiction that walks the line between teen and adult. Norene Stall is a pregnant, fiercely independent 17-year-old with a chip on her shoulder. She stole her boyfriend's truck, his heart, some cash, and now finds herself in the small town of Pembina Lake in southwestern Manitoba. Noreen changes the lives of those who try to help her, and in so doing, Martha Brooks deftly draws us into each of the characters who are the REAL story here. Brilliantly written, and exceptional as either teen or adult fiction, this one is not to be missed. You can only buy it in Canada prior to March 2003.


Olivia

"Olivia" - by Ian Falconer

(Ages 4-8) Illustrated in black, white and red pen drawings (with an occasional pink shade), this is the story of Olivia, a pig with a lot of energy who likes to try everything. She likes to excel in everything she does, even if it means building sand skyscrapers instead of sandcastles. Olivia and her surroundings are illustrated in black and white, with well-placed shadows and shadings, and also select areas and clothing featured in red. The simply written text allows the drawings to speak for Olivia’s actions. The informal, easy words tell what Olivia likes to do with her days and how she interacts with her family. Detail lithographs of Jackson Pollock’s "Autumn" and Degas’ "Rehearsal on the Set" are also included as part of the story. Olivia is cherished by her family (and herself) because of her individuality and personality. Caldecott Award Winner.


The Landry News

"The Landry News" - by Andrew Clements

(Ages 9-12) Cara Landry has a difficult time coping with the newness of her parents’ divorce. She is a quiet kid, invisible to her classmates. She devotes her energy to creating The Landry News, her own newspaper, with news, sports and an editorial. One day, she posts the News on Mr. Larson’s social studies bulletin board. Mr. Larson has a reputation for not teaching; he will periodically assign a topic for the students, and then read his newspapers. One News editorial discusses Mr. Larson’s philosophy of the students teaching themselves and that the students should earn his salary. After finding this, Mr. Larson changes his habits and teaches the students journalism and the Constitution. When the Landry News, now a school hit headed by Cara, runs a controversial guest column, Mr. Landry is called for a disciplinary proceeding, his job in jeopardy. It is up to Cara and her new friends to help him. Each chapter is entitled in the style of a newspaper headline. The book shares an excellent lesson for girls to both persist in what interests them, and that they have the power to help people, as these students did for Mr. Larson.


Telzey Amberdon


TnT


Trigger and Friends


The Hub

"Telzey Amberdon Series" - by James H. Schmitz

(Young Adult) This is a re-issued collection of Schmitz's stories featuring Telzey Amberdon, from Baen Books. Telzey is fifteen, smart (she's already in law school), independent, and one of the strongest telepaths in the Hub Worlds. She takes on deadly aliens and corrupt corporations with equal panache, and proves that true courage consists of doing what you have to even if you ARE scared down to your socks.

There are 4 books in this set of re-issued Schmitz stories from Baen, and all of them feature strong female protagonists. The other three are:

  • "TnT -- Telzey and Trigger", featuring stories about Telzey working with Hub agent Trigger Argee
  • "Trigger and Friends", with Trigger stories not including Telzey
  • "The Hub: Dangerous Territory", which includes "The Demon Breed", listed elsewhere on this site as being out of print.
All of them are wonderful action-adventure fun, and the strong female characters aren't self-conscious "role models" -- they just ARE who they are.

Buy Ella Enchanted Now

"Ella Enchanted" - by Gail Carson Levine

(Ages 9-12) With a twist to the traditional Cinderella-style fairy-tale, Gail Carson Levine has given us a delightful young Heartless Bitch in Ella - enchanted at birth by a spell of obedience. Ella's response to the curse is delightfully unconventional: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." Ella must find her way through an evil stepmother and stepsisters, ogres, challenges, and ultimately there IS a prince involved - but it is Ella who rescues HIM. Highly recommended, Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

Buy Walk Two Moons

"Walk Two Moons" - by Sharon Creech

(Ages 9-12) From Amazon.com:

"Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle's mother has disappeared. While tracing her steps on a car trip from Ohio to Idaho with her grandparents, Salamanca tells a story to pass the time about a friend named Phoebe Winterbottom whose mother vanished and who received secret messages after her disappearance. One of them read, "Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins." Despite her father's warning that she is "fishing in the air," Salamanca hopes to bring her home. By drawing strength from her Native American ancestry, she is able to face the truth about her mother. Walk Two Moons won the 1995 Newbery Medal. "


Buy Number The Stars

"Number The Stars" - by Lois Lowry

(Ages 9-12) A ten-year-old Danish girl's bravery is tested when her best friend is threatened by Nazis in 1943. "The whole work is seamless, compelling, and memorable -- impossible to put down; difficult to forget."


The Dark Angel (v1)


A Gathering of Gargoyles (v2)


The Pearl of the Soul of the World (v3)

"The Darkangel Trilogy " - by Meredith Anne Pierce

(Young Adult) A beautifully written, insightful fantasy trilogy. A strange, winged being (half Icarus, half vampyre) is preying upon the people of a strange, imaginatively realized world of mythical creatures...(actually a post-nuclear apocalypse, human engineered world on the moon...although we don't learn this until the final novel in the series).

Aeriel, the protagonist, is a servant who unsuccessfully defends her mistress (and friend) from an attack by the Icarus. She is taken into enslavement by the creature. However, through high courage and compassion, she rescues the Icarus from a spell that he himself is under, and becomes embroiled in a fierce battle for the future of her land.

The books are filled with complex friendships and an almost unprecedented level of focused imagination. Aeriel is a wonderfully realized human being. I'd put this trilogy into the very rarified company of works by Ursula Le'Guin and C.S. Lewis.

The three titles are:

'The Darkangel'
'A Gathering of Gargoyles'
'The Pearl of the Soul of the World'


Peg And The Whale

"Peg and the Whale" - by Kenneth Oppel

(Ages 4-7)
Peg was born upon the bright blue sea. A big strapping lass, Peg isn’t one to do things in half measures. Anything she turns her hand to, she’s good at. But she wants more than that. She wants big, she wants better, she wants best. She wants to be the world’s best fisherman!

Now that Peg’s pushing seven, she figures it’s high time she caught herself a whale. So she packs up her fishing rod and signs on with the whaleship Viper..

Peg is ready to catch a whale. But is the whale ready for Peg?


Speak

"Speak" - by Laurie Halse Anderson

Young Adult

Melinda Sordino crashed an end of the summer party by calling the police. When school is back in session, all her "friends" hate her as do everyone else (basically) in school. She hides away from everyone in a closet and in her head. She has trouble coming to terms with what happened the night she busted the party, and eventually finds she can "speak". An awesome story about an outcast finding her voice and standing up for herself after she was...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out...


Violet & Claire

"Violet & Claire" - by Francisca Lea Block

Young Adult
Violet & Claire comes off as a teenie bopper book, with two perfect girls' bare, pierced stomachs on the front cover. But, considering you can't judge a book by it's cover, I checked it out (well, based on a suggestion by a heartless girlfriend). It's a great book, and got me hooked on other works by the author. The basic plot? Violet is a borderline goth and aspiring screenwriter who grew up in a wealthy home in the always twisted Los Angeles. She comes off as a spoiled little rich girl, until she admits openly that she has no friends, and doesn't seem to want any. When a petite blond (wait..it gets better) who's obsessed with faeries and slightly demented transfers to their high school, she is ridiculed for her gauzy faux wings and shy personality. Violet sees her as a perfect leading lady, and takes her under her wing. Violet, however, needs inspiration for a film, so the two go on alternative "adventures"- a silent film, a transvestite bar, and an underground concert, where Violet hooks up with the band's front man. Violet eventually gets a job as an intern at a production company, and Claire persues a career in poetry, falling for the teacher of a small class. When Violet's script is made into a film, things begin to go downhill, due to her ego and drug abuse. However, she never looses her admirable strength and attitude, and Claire even becomes a bit feistier. The ending is a bit mushy, but still pleasant. Absoloutely a good read.

BUY Winter of Fire Now!
Winter of Fire

"Winter of Fire" - by Sherryl Jordan

Elsha is a member of the Quelled, a group of people who are ruled over by the Chosen and used as slaves in the firestone(coal)mines. When the Firelord chooses her to be his handmaiden, she must learn to live among people who hate her and along the way discover her own powers and destiny.

Elsha is a wonderful character, strong and passionate. She faces up to prejudice and works to make a better life for her people.

BUY The Chronicles of Narnia Now!
The Chronicles of Narnia

"The Chronicles of Narnia" - by C.S Lewis

C.S Lewis evened out the playing field between boys and girls in these 7 fantasy books covering the history of the magical land of Narnia. Children from our world are called upon by Aslan the Great Lion, to save Narnia from evil enchantresses, tyrannical kings and foreign invasion.

Honorary Heartless Bitchy girls worth noting here are:

Polly Plummer (The Magician's Nephew) who at the age of 5 has no qualms about leaving the evil queen Jadis to fend for herself and die in an in-between world and won't put up with Digory's high-handedness.

Aravis Tarkheena (The Horse and His Boy) a Calormene noblegirl/tomboy who constantly puts down the peasant boy Shasta for his short-comings, forges a letter to her father to escape an arranged marriage to the ancient Grand Vizier and shows a thing or two to her flaky looks-obsessed childhood friend Lasaraleen about court intrigue.

Jill Pole (The Silver Chair & The Last Battle) Assigned by Aslan and is given 4 signs to look for in order to find the heir-apparent but missing, Prince Rilian. During the course of her adventures, she learns to hunt and skin wild birds, plays cute to seduce a castle full of giants in order to escape and won't take an ounce of flak from her 2 male companions,Eustace and Puddleglum.

Lucy Pevensie (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawntreader, The Last Battle) The youngest of the 4 Pevensie children called back to Narnia during Narnia's greatest hours of need, she sees the magical and elusive Aslan most often and is singled out as his favorite due to her faith, courage and honesty. Lucy is often asked to do things which goes against everyone else's beleifs, she struggles with everyone's opinions but finally, has the courage to go it alone if need be. She is constantly put down or never taken seriously being the youngest and smallest, but always ends up being right and makes everyone else eat humble pie.

BUY Chrysanthemum Now!
Chrysanthemum

"Chrysanthemum" - by Kevin Henkes

(Ages 3-7) Chrysanthemum's parents adore her, and give her a "perfect" name. However, three puffed-up princess classmates mock her name, and her self-esteem takes a major knock. But her dance teacher, worshipped by all (and ready-to-pop pregnant and still working!) says that she'd like to name her baby Chrysanthemum. The characters may be mice, but this slim volume sums up classroom politics and individuality as well as any book I've ever read!

BUY Yoko Now!
Yoko

"Yoko" - by Rosemary Wells

(Ages 3-7) Yoko brings her mother's lovingly-made sushi to school, to the disgust of her classmates. Even a teacher's idea of having EVERYONE bring a food from their culture doesn't sway the other kids into trying a taste. But Yoko makes one friend who likes sushi as much as she does. It's amazing how having just one special person want to understand you can make up for the crap you get from all the conformists.

BUY WHY? Now!
WHY?

"Why?" - by Lindsay Camp

(ages 3-7) Lily drives her dad NUTS with her endless "Why?"'s

But one day, she saves the world because she's the only one who DARES ask "Why?"

BUY Nausicaa Now!
Nausicaa

"Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" - by Hayao Miyazaki

This is actually a series of four graphic novels, not a regular book.

This story follows Nausicaa, who is the princess of the small Valley of Wind, in a world after a great man-made disaster. In it, a great Sea of Corruption (a forest of molds and insects that gives off poisonous fumes) slowly spreads over the world.

Nausicaa and various other characters get embroiled in a war between the two great nations left on the planet, and the fate of all of humanity.

Nausicaa is a very strong character, who cares about all life (including the insects of the forest), and is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. She grows a great deal over the course of the books, and there are also several other strong female characters, such as Kushana, a princess of one of the battling empires who is a great military leader.

Almost everyone in the story have different facets of their personality and motivations, both male and female. There is very little that could be considered total good or evil, and under its main ecological theme, there are a lot of other themes involving sexism, human suffuring and compassion, etc.

This was made into an animated movie, which was unfortunately totally butchered when it was brought into the US (becoming known as the Warriors of the Wind). One can only hope that the original story will someday be released here, but at least books have been faithfully translated into english and released by Viz (there is even a boxed set for it).

This is a great story for anyone of any sex or age to read, but I think a young girl could probably identify most with Nausicaa and be affected the most. But it does contain some violence and tackles a lot of strong issues, so take that into account before having a very young person read it.

BUY Harriet Now!
Harriet the Spy

"Harriet the Spy" - by Louise Fitzhugh

Written nearly 40 years ago, Fitzhugh's book remains one of the best views of childhood as it really is. And it's a vote of approval for girls with curiosity. Harriet's adventures spying around her neighborhood teach her a lot about life in all its glory, monotony, and hypocrisy. Her relationship with her nanny, Ole Golly, is a great mentoring story. And her falling-out with her classmates when her acerbic (but honest) opinions of them are found in her diary will resonate with anyone who ever told the truth, and suffered the consequences. Truly a gem.

BUY First Test Now!
First Test

BUY Page Now!
Page

BUY Squire Now!
Squire

"The Protector of Small (series)" - by Tamora Pierce

This series (First Test, Page, Squire) takes place sometime after the "Lioness Rampant" series, and features the first girl to train as a knight after girls are admitted to knighthood. She deals with anti-woman attitudes from her instructors as well as her classmates, and finally has to face her greatest fear in order to rescue another young woman.

BUY Downriver Now!

"Downriver" - by Will Hobbs

Downriver is about a teenaged girl named Jessie who is unsure about herself and her family. In the beginning her parents get divorced so she has to live with her father and his new girlfriend. Her father sends her to a "survival" camp called Discovery Unlimited. It is led by a complete lunatic by the name of Al. During the survival camp, Jessie becomes friends with some of the other kids at the camp. There is Star, who is always very superstitious and worried. Troy is the "handsome, brave, spectacular guy" at the camp, whom Jessie starts to grow "fond" of. Freddy is the odd kid on the trip who always keeps to himself, and is the nature boy who knows everything about Mother Nature. Pug is the follower of Troy. He does whatever he can to please Troy at all times. And there is Adam. He the joker and entertainer of all the kids, who gives every one a laugh at any time. There are a few other kids at the camp, but they don't have very big roles in the book. At Discovery Unlimited, Al has the kids doing all sorts of activities to make them feel better about themselves. About halfway through the book, the kids start getting tired of some of the activities, and find them hardly challenging at all. Troy convinces most of the kids to run off, and raft the Grand Canyon! The rest of the book is about the "campers" trying to survive together and avoid Al as he tries catching up with them along the trail! On the river, Jessie discovers how strong a leader she can be. I like this book because it shows that girls can be powerful without the aid of boys.


A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" - by Betty Smith

(ages 10+)
A classic coming-of-age story, this book does good by the mother/daughter relationship, the sister/sister relationship, the girlfriend/girlfriend relationship, the girlfriend/boyfriend relationship, the daughter/father relationship, the sister/brother relationship, and the girl-faces-the-world issue.

In short, it's really a simple growing-up story about a girl in Brooklyn. But simple was never this good. We follow Francie's emotional growth and, in the end, can't help but cheer for her, her mother, and her aunt. They are shining examples of the strength of women.


Jedi Apprentice Series #5


Jedi Apprentice Series #6

"Jedi Apprentice Series, books #5 and #6" - by Jude Watson
(ages 9-12)

Though the rest of the Jedi Apprentice series tell the story of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi's childhood, these two books in particular involve the character of Cerasi, a girl who leads a resistance group of children in a planet where the adults fight in a Montaque and Capulet fashion. Through the course of these two books, Cerasi proves herself to be one who, though willing to fight for justice if the situation demands it, is also ready to lay down arms and accept compromises for the sake of peace. A very endearing, believable portrayal of a female role model.


Sabriel

"Sabriel" - by Garth Nix
(young adult)

The girl saves the world, gets the guy, comes to terms with her difficult heritage with grace (her dad, a necromancer, left his legacy to his daughter) and all the while never losing her cool. Not only is this book an extremely satisfying read, but the character of Sabriel is the essence of the strong female lead.


Girls Think of Everything

"Girls Think of Everything : Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women"
(Ages 9-12)

A fun, exciting and well-written compilation of some of the neatest, coolest inventions by women. Something to inspire and incite the inventor in everyone, and a great gift!


Bad Girls

"Bad Girls" - by Cynthia Voigt
(Ages 9-12)

Best friends Margalo and Mikey, two girls from the other side of the tracks, begin fifth grade with chips on their shoulders and seek to prove to everyone that they fear nothing, trust nobody, and can be tough even if they are not boys.


Starting School

"Starting School With an Enemy" - by Elisa Carbone
(Ages 9-12)

From Amazon.com:
Sarah's first few days of fifth grade aren't going too well. She manages to run down the little brother of school bully Eric Bardo with her bicycle; she lies to the friend she likes the best; she "borrows" a basketball from her teacher's private supply cabinet to prove herself to her new schoolmates; and, with all her childish acts of revenge against Eric (including inserting wriggling larvae into his sandwich), manages to spend a large chunk of her lunches and recesses in detention. In the process, she is chastised by her new teacher--and her parents, who deliver the "Staying Out of Trouble at School" as well as the "Walking Away from Conflict" lecture. Perhaps worst of all, she gets the cold shoulder from her new friend Christina Perez, who doesn't appreciate her lies, or her "eye for an eye" attitude towards her tiresomely taunting tormentor.

Sarah is no angel--she's flip and sarcastic, none too sensitive, and her logic is certainly skewed. (Not getting caught is equivalent to staying out of trouble, for example.) Still, thanks to wiser souls around her--including her teenage brother and her new best friend--she learns many valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and how to diffuse, and thereby dissolve, the continued attacks of bullies.

Starting School with an Enemy is a funny, spirited collection of wisdom (and comic relief) for any kid who's ever been teased.


The Firework-Maker's Daughter

"The Firework-Maker's Daughter" - by Philip Pullman, S. Saelig Gallagher (Illustrator)
(Ages 9-12)

Lila grows up different from other girls of her time (a thousand miles ago), with a talent and love of making fireworks like her father. However, her father does not agree with her passion to become a master fireworks-maker, he wants her to get married like other girls. The prospect of marriage and giving up on her dreams compells Lila to run away to Mount Merapi, where every firework-maker must go to claim some of the royal sulphur from Razvani the Fire-Fiend.

On the way, this courageous heroine must face and overcome all manner of obstacles, including people, creatures, and her own fear.


Herstory

"Herstory : Women Who Changed the World " - by Ruth Ashby (Editor), Deborah Gore Ohrn (Editor), Gloria Steinem (Introduction)
(Young Adult)

A very special collection of short biographies offers insightful sketches of the lives and accomplishments of 150 of history's most influential and brilliant women, including Clara Barton, the legendary Trung Sisters of medieval Vietnam, and many others.


All by Herself

"All by Herself : 14 Girls Who Made a Difference" - by by Ann Whitford Paul, Michael Steirnagle (Illustrator)

Amelia Earhart, Golda Meir, Pocahontas, Rachel Carson, Wanda Gg, Wilma Rudolph, and other determined young women-both famous and less familiar-took risks and made sacrifices to do brave things. Each of these inspiring poems proves that every girl, no matter who she is or where she lives, is capable of making a difference.



"The Hero and the Crown" - by Robin McKinley

This is probably the best of McKinley's books. It's a Newbery-winning fantasy novel about a princess named Aerin, daughter of the king of Damar. Aerin is the daughter of the king's second wife, a woman derided as a witch, and the ill-will has extended to Aerin herself. Too tall, too pale, and not (by others' standards) pretty enough, Aerin learns to kill dragons instead. This leads her to a confrontation with the greatest dragon Damar has ever faced, and from there to an even greater threat. Along the way, she faces choices in love, learns her own worth, and becomes a heroine that I think every teenage girl who ever felt uncomfortable in her skin needs to get to know.


Girls

"Girls : A History of Growing Up Female in America" - by Penny Colman

From Amazon.com:
Drawing on eyewitness accounts, diaries, letters, memoirs, household manuals, advice books, and photographs, GIRLS chronicles the stories of females growing up in America from pre-colonial days to the present and highlights their spirit, courage, and contributions.


Cool Women

"Cool Women : The Reference" - by Dawn Chipman, Pamela Nelson (Editor), Mari Florence, Naomi Wax
(Young Adult)

["Cool Women" was nominated by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books For Young Adults of 1998.]

From THE LOS ANGELES INDEPENDENT:
The Baby Sitters’ Club and Sweet Valley High schooler may want to step aside - there’s a new gang of girls in town. They’re the real-life heroines of ‘Cool Women,’ a collection of ‘righteous queens,’ ‘cool goddesses,’ ‘lady spies’ and a few more who weren’t afraid to misbehave - and make history.


Any Girl Can Rule the World

"Any Girl Can Rule the World" - by Susan M. Brooks
(Young Adult)

A proactive, pro-girl guide to making a real difference in the world by, among other things, becoming a political activist, starting a 'zine, investing in the stock market, or producing a cable TV show, this book features practical information, hot tips, and detailed lists of resources.


Frog and Wombat


"Frog and Wombat"

Technically it's not a book - It's a kids' movie, but what better role models for young girls than the main characters of this movie?

In "Frog and Wombat", two girls, who nickname themselves "Frog" and "Wombat", investigate a murder by their elementary school principal. Mainly it's Frog who does most of the work, checking the place out, coming up with ideas on how to investigate, and later when she is kidnapped, she manages to get free and break a bottle over the kidnapper's head, knocking him out. Yeah! No better form of girl power for girls than this movie.


The Hero and the Crown


"The Hero and the Crown" - by Robin McKinley

Strong female characters in The Hero and the Crown make this book a great confidence-builder for girls (and women). The main character, Aerin, goes from being teased about her heritage (her mother is believed to be a witch) to being a self taught dragon-slayer. In the end, she becomes her Kingdom's greatest war-hero, bringing back the Great Crown. She even gets the man of her dreams (and he's even smart enough to proclaim her as his better... in brains as well as in battle).


Mountain Valor

"Mountain Valor " - by Gloria Houston, Thomas B. Allen (Illustrator)
(Ages 9-12)

Set in North Carolina, during the U.S. Civil war, this story based on the life of the author's relative Matilda Houston is a gritty and authentic look at life on the frontier. 11-year-old Valor McAimee must look after her younger brothers and her ill mother while the men have left to fight in the war. When the family farm is robbed by Yankee soldiers, Valor must find the courage to live up to her name and retrieve the family's supplies.


The Bridge to Terabithia

"The Bridge to Terabithia" - by Katherine Paterson, Donna Diamond (illustrator)

From Amazon.com:
The story starts out simply enough: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade--he wants it so bad he can taste it. He's been practicing all summer, running in the fields around his farmhouse until he collapses in a sweat. Then a tomboy named Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse next door and changes his life forever. Not only does Leslie not look or act like any girls Jess knows, but she also turns out to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. After getting over the shock and humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay.

Despite their superficial differences, it's clear that Jess and Leslie are soul mates. The two create a secret kingdom in the woods named Terabithia, where the only way to get into the castle is by swinging out over a gully on an enchanted rope. Here they reign as king and queen, fighting off imaginary giants and the walking dead, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against the schoolmates who tease them. Jess and Leslie find solace in the sanctuary of Terabithia until a tragedy strikes and the two are separated forever. In a style that is both plain and powerful, Katherine Paterson's characters will stir your heart and put a lump in your throat. -


The Great Gilly Hopkins

"The Great Gilly Hopkins" - by Katherine Paterson

From Amazon.com:
Gilly Hopkins is a determined-to-be-unpleasant 11-year-old foster kid who the reader can't help but like by the end. Gilly has been in the foster system all her life, and she dreams of getting back to her (as she imagines) wonderful mother. (The mother makes these longings worse by writing the occasional letter.) Gilly is all the more determined to leave after she's placed in a new foster home with a "gross guardian and a freaky kid." But she soon learns about illusions--the hard way. This Newbery Honor Book manages to treat a somewhat grim, and definitely grown-up theme with love and humor, making it a terrific read for a young reader who's ready to learn that "happy" and "ending" don't always go together. (Ages 9 to 12)


Book of Enchantments

"Book of Enchantments" - by Patricia C. Wrede

Another collection of short stories featuring strong female protagonists from the author who is best known for her "unconventional" stories about heroines saving princes in the "Enchanted Forest" series.


Swamp Angel

"Swamp Angel" - by Anne Isaacs, Paul O. Zelinsky (Illustrator)


From "Amazon.com":
(Age 5-9) From Booklist
"Forget those images of angelic maidens, ethereal and demure. Angelica Longrider is the greatest woodswoman in Tennessee. She can lasso a tornado. She can toss a bear into the sky so hard that it is still on the way up at nightfall. She snores like a locomotive in a thunderstorm."

A great picture book with incredible oil paintings by Zelinsky that artfully illustrate the text of this uproariously entertaining tall tale.


Happy to be Nappy

"Happy to Be Nappy" - by Bell Hooks, Christopher Raschka (Illustrator), Chris Raschka (Illustrator)

From "Amazon.com":
(Age 4-7) "Renowned feminist and social critic bell hooks takes on... hair! "Hair for hands to touch and play! Hair to take the gloom away." This rhythmic read-aloud is, on the surface, all about hair: nappy, plaited, long, short, natural, twisted, "soft like cotton, flower petal billowy soft, full of frizz and fuzz." Comb through the surface and find a celebration of childhood and girls and the freedom to express individuality. The rituals implied in the book are rooted in the traditions of hooks's own childhood, when "doing" hair was just as much an excuse for girls to laugh and tell stories and just be together. Going still deeper is the much-needed message encouraging girls to love and accept themselves (and others) just the way they are."


The Birchbark House

"The Birchbark House" - by Louise Erdrich (Illustrator)

From "Amazon.com":
(age 9-12) "A view of the 19-century as seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her first step was a hop. The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior's Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. We follow Omakayas and her adopted family through a cycle of four seasons in 1847, including the winter, when a historically documented outbreak of smallpox overtook the island.

Omakayas is an intense, strong, likable character to whom young readers will fully relate--from her mixed emotions about her siblings, to her discovery of her unique talents, to her devotion to her pet crow Andeg, to her budding understanding of death, life, and her role in the natural world. We look forward to reading more about this brave, intuitive girl."


It's Perfectly Normal

"It's Perfectly Normal : Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health" - by Robie H. Harris, Michael Emberley (Illustrator)

This is the clearest, most entertaining, and non-patronizing book about puberty & sexuality out there. For young people I would say it's a must. Adults may want to check it out themselves. Everyone who reads it learns something. It provides unbiased and open discussions about masturbation, homosexuality, menstruation, ejaculation and and is not afraid of using nudity in pictures. The cartoon-format is well done and depicts a range of ethnicities and body types. While rated for the (9-12) age, some parents may want to pre-screen this book and determine what is appropriate for children under 12.


"The Demon Breed" - by James H. Schmitz

Nile Etland intelligently deploys the unique ecology of her planet and her intelligent otter friends to foil an alien invasion. Whether it's luring sadistic aliens to horrible deaths, or turning their own psychology against them, Nile remains one step ahead of the opposition by using her resources [mental, physical, natural] to the utmost. All of James Schmitz' books [Agent of Vega, Witches of Karres, The Unverse Against Her, Lion Game, etc.] feature strong, intelligent, resourceful women--a real HB smorgasbord. These books are out of print and no longer available from Amazon.com - but you MAY be able to find them at your local library.


Women Warriors

"Women Warriors" - by Marianna Mayer (Illustrator), Julek Heller (Illustrator)

(ages 9-12) From days of old, they have intrigued people all over the world: brave, defiant warrior women who stir imaginations, rouse passions, and often inspire thousands of followers. These fierce and fearless spirits are goddesses, queens, and peasants; they are children, young women, and adults in the winter of their years. From the story of Britain's proud queen Boadicea to that of the Sioux warrior Winyan Ohitika, Marianna Mayer re-creates twelve thrilling tales of war and bravery, bitterness and triumph. Twenty-four full-color illustrations and a map, bibliography, and annotated index are included in this striking anthology for all ages.


Let's Hear It for the Girls

"Let's Hear It for the Girls : 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14" - by Erica Bauermeister (Contributor), Holly Smith (Contributor)

The authors of 500 Great Books by Women present a list of 375 books, for ages (2-14), organized by reading level, that provide young girls with strong female role models, featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, and picture books from around the world.


Great Books for Girls

"Great Books for Girls : More Than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women" - by Kathleen Odean

This first-of-its-kind sourcebook of valuable reading presents more than 600 annotated listings of books for girls, from toddlers to adolescents, featuring female characters who solve problems, handle conflicts, go on quests, and shape their own destinies.


The Ruby in the Smoke






The Shadow in the North








The Tiger in the Well







"The Sally Lockhart Trilogy" - by Phillip Pullman

(Young Adult)
Book 1: "The Ruby In the Smoke" - In search of clues to solve the puzzle of her father's death, 16-year-old Sally Lockhart ventures bravely into London's shadowy underworld. Pursued by villains and cutthroats at every turn, the intrepid Sally finally uncovers two dark mysteries--and realizes that she herself is the key to both! ALA Best Book for Young Adults. IRA Children's Book Award. Utah Young Adult Award.

Book 2: "The Shadow in the North" - (from booklist): "Fraud, fire, and bloody murder pursue Sally Lockhart in a fine sequel to The Ruby in the Smoke. Sally, now 22, is in business as a financial consultant. When she and her friends challenge corrupt financial interests, they find themselves in a web of intrigue that stretches from fetid slums of the poor to the corporate offices of the richest man in Europe. Sally's detective work reveals the connections between corrupt power and broken lives. The action is fast, scenes are tight and dramatic, the language is vivid, and the wealth of minor characters are sharply individualized. An immensely entertaining thriller."

Book 3: "The Tiger in the Well" - (from School Library Journal): "Pullman is fast becoming a modern-day Dickens for young adults. The setting is the same, the strong eye for characters is there, as are the brooding atmosphere, the social conscience, and the ability to spin plot within plot. Sally Lockhart is now a young woman, left alone with a toddler. Nothing prepares her for the shock of receiving a summons from a man she has never even heard of, suing for divorce and the custody of her beloved Harriet. Sally struggles against the net closing around her, seeking to find out who is persecuting her and why. The writing style is lively and direct, and there's lots of action. This is a suspense novel with a conscience, and a most enjoyable one."


Ronia

"Ronia, the Robber's Daughter" - by Astrid Lindgren

(Ages 9-12) Ronia, the fearless and independent daughter of the head of a robber tribe, has enough of her dad's foolishness. She packs her stuff up, and heads off to live in the harpy-and-troll filled woods alone. She has a male friend (not romantic), but she teaches him a few lessons too, before she finally agrees to move back home-- which isn't until she's made it through the winter on her own.


Freedom Train

"Freedom Train" - by Dorothy Sterling

(Ages 9-12) Born into slavery, young Harriet Tubman knew only hard work and hunger. Escape seemed impossible--certainly dangerous. Yet Harriet did escape North, by the secret route called the Underground Railroad. Harriet didn't forget her people. Again and again she risked her life to lead them on the same secret, dangerous journey.


The Secret Garden

"The Secret Garden" - by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The classic tale of a typical little girl, Mary, of the Elizabethan era who is orphaned and sent to live with a cold and overbearing uncle. She quietly defies the wishes of her uncle and his housekeeper all the while teaching her "dying" cousin how to live as she learns to live for herself. Everyone in this book learns a lesson in life from Mary Lennox; including Mary herself.


Just Because I Am


A Leader's Guide to Just Because I Am


We Can Get Along


A Leader's Guide to Just Because I Am

"Just because I am" and "We can get along"- by Lauren Payne and Claudia Rohling

Helping children, both our own and those within our sphere of experience, to become strong, autonomous and confident enough to live fully in the world is a goal that many of us hold sacred. I have found two absolutely amazing self-empowerment books for children, and adults.

"Just because I am" teaches children about their feelings and bodies, that they have the right to say "no" to anything that feels dangerous or wrong, that what they feel and experience is fine and worthy of trust, and lots more.

"We can get along" is a fabulous book about conflict resolution peace-making, and how to treat other people. Both books are clearly and satisfyingly written, and the illustrations are enchanting, colorful and rich. Each of the books has a companion book/leader's guide that is valuable for both teachers and parents.


Ronia


Pippi

"Ronia, The Robber's Daughter" and "Pippi Longstocking" - by Astrid Lindgren

These books are real treasures for little girls. Both feature strong girls (and other smart women as well) who make their own choices regardless of any authorities and show that they are as good -or better- than any male. Especially Ronia, the wild forest girl is loved by all the Bitches I know;). Lindgren's books are very popular here in Scandinavia so everybody has read her as a child. (And what a marvellous thing that is!) This is pure self-esteem for kids in book form!


Queenie Peavy

"Queenie Peavy" - by Robert Burch, Jerry Lazare (Illustrator)

(ages 9-12)
A scrappy 13-yr-old and the biggest trouble maker in school is forced to deal with her father being thrown in jail, and the taunts that result from the other children. Through it all, Queenie learns about herself, her father and a different kind of strength. Robert Burch does a masterful job as he takes Queeny from a scrapping "rascal" to a focused youth in her search of her own self-worth.


Wild Magic (The Immortals Series , No 1)


Wolf-Speaker (The Immortals Series , No 2)


Emperor Mage (The Immortals Series , No 3)


Realms of the Gods (The Immortals Series , No 4)

"The Immortals Series" - by Tamora Pierce

(young adult)
These books are about a strong young woman who fends for herself in a world where Men usually do everything. The same place and (almost) time as Lioness Rampart. She finds an inner strength - and wild magic - within herself. Great reading for young & old.


Catherine, Called Birdy

"Catherine, Called Birdy" - by Karen Cushman

In this Newbery Honor book, set in the dark ages, a girl called Catherine (nicknamed Birdy) is facing an arranged marriage. Her father tries to marry her off to a bunch of rich suitors who would by no means make good husbands, but Catherine uses tricks and her brain to send them running off. It's written in the form of a diary and she's definitely not some girl who lets people push her around. In the end she finds the person she chooses to marry and not someone who was choosen for her.


Hating Alison Ashley

"Hating Alison Ashley" - by Robin Klein

Erika Yurk considers herself quite secure in her social status at school. Good at drama and popular she looks forward to another successful year at school. Until, that is, Alison Ashley arrives. Good looking, intelligent and oozing class (unlike Erika's perception of her own family), Alison seems certain to usurp Erika at her own game. The events leading up to the school play give Erika cause to reassess her own values, and recognise what is important in her life.

The Ordinary Princess is out of print - if you find it in a used book store, snap it up!

"The Ordinary Princess" - by M. M. Kaye

A-girl-who-don't-look-like-mariah-carey-but-still-keeps-it- cool-(and doesn't bitch about life)and-gets-her-man-because- she's-with-it. Technically, it's a book written for kids --but even adults can appreciate it. It's funny, it's touching, and it reiterates the well-known fact that a true princess is a woman who's beauty is internal.


Are You There, God?

"Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" - by Judy Blume

Margaret deals with changing schools, religion decisions, cutesy friends, boys, boobs that don't seem to want to grow, and a period that just will not start. This book covers almost everything an eleven to fourteen year old girl has to face while growing up. It was wonderful when I was 12 and it is still a great read at 24.


O Pioneers

"O Pioneers" - by Willa Cather, Doris Grumbach

This book is set in the Nebraska prairie during the turn of the century, and tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and the lands that they have worked their whole lives in keeping. Her brothers, although hard working, are dumb and set in their ways. All through this book of love, greed, murder, failed dreams and hard won triumphs, Alexandra's intelligence, hardness, and sheer temerity keep everything going. At the end, she finally marries a man she loves- and makes him treat her right while she keeps running the farm herself. A great book for ages 9-and up.


The Snow Queen

"The Snow Queen" (Fairy Tale)

One of the few traditional fairy tales that where the female characters aren't soppy wet creatures who sit around looking beautiful while waiting to marry the prince and live happily ever after. When the Snow Queen lures away her best friend, the heroine heads off to the frozen North to rescue him.


Lyddie

"Lyddie" - by Katherine Paterson

Lyddie Worthen is a 13 year old girl in the 1800's(?), when she is separated from her family. She is forced to work at a mill job, where she and several other girls run weaving looms in bad working conditions, including an arsehole child-molester overseer. She teaches herself to read, and quickly becomes the best worker in the mill. However, when her friends become sick, and the overseer starts bothering her friends, she speaks up, and is fired on account of "moral turpritude". Before she goes, she devises a way to screw him over, should he bother any other girls. She ends up going to Oberlin (instead of marrying some guy).


The Golden Compass


The Subtle Knife

"The Golden Compass" (book one), "The Subtle Knife" (book two), "The Amber Spyglass (book three)- by Phillip Pullman

A challenging and richly woven fantasy book for young adults in the tradition of Madeline L'Engle and Tolkein, with a very strong, gutsy, and independent central character, Lyra, on whom the destiny of humankind may ride. In book two, a strong male character "Will", emerges, and Pullman is quoted as saying (in an interview with Amazon.com),

"I'm pleased to be offering strong and positive images of girls for readers to relate to, but I don't do it for any political reason. It just happens like that. But I'll add something I often say when this question comes up: in order to show girls being strong, you don't have to show boys being weak."

This is an excellent series to read aloud to older children (10-13), as there are many concepts (history of the church in the world, biblical references, physics, etc.) which may need explaining.


Outside Over There

"Outside Over There" by Maurice Sendak

While Sendak is most famous for his "Where the Wild Things Are", "Outside Over There", is a lyrical and brilliantly illustrated story, equally worthy of attention. Dark and brooding, this poetic story tells the tale of "Ida" - a young girl left in charge of minding her baby sister. Unfortunately, goblins steal away the baby sister, leaving a changeling behind "all made of ice". Ida storms off after the goblins to rescue her sister. A great book not only for it's portrayal of a young girl taking charge and becoming a heroine, but also because it deconstructs fearsome things like goblins - they turn out to be nothing more than babies, just like her sister... Interesting symbolism as well...


Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death

And be sure to get this other great Richard Peck story:

Ghosts I have Been

"The Blossom Culp Series" by Richard Peck

Blossom Culp lives in a shack on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, and if it weren't for the jumble sales at the church she'd be naked. But by using her natural talents and pure spunk, Blossom grosses out the neighborhood social club, travels to England,and meets the Queen.


The Perilous Gard

"The Perilous Gard" - by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Kate, an unattractive but intelligent young noblewoman of Elizabethan times, finds herself exiled to BFE Britain due to her beautiful younger sister's stupidity. There she uncovers a frightening pre-Christian society from whom she must rescue the male protagonist. Very amusing dialogue, but somewhat sad overall, as the defeat of the pagans is only after Kate comes to be a part of them. This book has been around for awhile, but the female characters (ALL of them) are very real and include several HBs, even Queen Elizabeth herself.


Where the Lillies Bloom

"Where the Lillies Bloom" - by Vera and Bill Cleaver (young adult c1969)

(A Newbery Award Honor book) When Mary Call (an irrepressible 14-yr-old) vows to hold her orphaned family together, and to keep her dreamy sister from marrying a "villain", she becomes one of the most enterprising, tough, courageous and unforgettable heroines you will ever meet.


Stephanie's PonyTail

"Stephanie's PonyTail" - by Robert Munsch.

(ages 3-7) A fun parable about assertingyour individuality and not bowing to social pressures. A little girl wears a ponytail to school and the other kids say, "Ugly, ugly, very ugly!" She says, "It's *my* ponytail and *I* like it!" The next day, they all are wearing ponytails. Stephanie keeps trying her ponytail in different places, each time meeting the same exact response. In the end, she gets even with them.


Angela's Airplane

"Angela's Airplane" - by Robert Munsch
(ages 3-7)

The delightfully absurd tale of Angela, who gets separated from her father at the airport and accidentally causes a plane to take off, with her in it. She is "talked down" by the air traffic controllers, and promises her frantic father that she will never fly a plane again.... until she grows up and breaks that promise to become an airline pilot. Wonderful illustrations by Michael Marchenko.


Good Families Don't

"Good Families Don't" - by Robert Munsch

(ages 3-7)Yet another absurdly funny, wonderfully illustrated Munsch book about a girl who discovers a big purple, green and yellow FART in her bed. Her parents, and even the police dismiss her with comments like "Don't be silly, Good families don't have farts. What would the neighbors say?" and "Don't be silly, Good Canadian's don't have farts. What would the American's say?". After the FART overwhelms everyone, it is up to her to save the day.


You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

"You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?" - by Jean Fritz (ISBN: 0-399-22786-5)
Jacket art copyright 1995 by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

A biography of Elizabeth Stanton, leader of suffragist movement.

(from the Putnam publishing page:) "If only you'd been a boy," said Lizzie Cady's father when she won a prize for Latin. But Lizzie didn't want to be a boy. She just wanted girls to count as much as boys did. When she grew up, married Henry Stanton, and had seven lively children of her own, she wanted to have the same rights as men- and that included voting.

Lizzie wasn't about to stay home and do what was expected of her while men made all the decisions. Nor was she going to wear full skirts if bloomers were more comfortable. When Lizzie spoke out for women's right to vote at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848, her husband was so embarrassed that he left town. But that didn't stop her. Like her good friend Susan B. Anthony, who joined her in the "battlefield," she traveled around the country, talking about equality for everyone men and women, black and white.

Though Elizabeth Cady Stanton didn't live to see women get the vote, her name is forever associated with the fight for women's suffrage. The story of that fight and of the remarkable woman who led it is told here by prizewinning biographer Jean Fritz.


The Ballad of the Pirate Queens

"The Ballad of the Pirate Queens" - by Jane Yolen

Recounting the stories of two legendary women pirates, a ballad about Anne Bonney and Mary Reade describes their desperate 1720 evening battle with the governor's men while the rest of the crew remained drinking below.

"Ye wouldn't have to hang like a dog, if ye'd fought like a man!" - Anne Bonney to John Rackham


The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

"The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" - by Avi (1990)

It's the fictional diary of an upper-class British girl in 1832 who finds herself on a trans-Atlantic journey without a chaperon. She bravely takes on a heartless captain and mutinous crew, learns to use a knife and to climb the mast, faces execution for murder, wears pants (gasp!), and generally defies the gender conventions of her day. This Award-winning story belongs on the bookshelf of every young girl.


Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind

"Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind" - by Suzanne Fisher Staples

This Newbery Honor Medal-winning book is the story of a young muslim girl struggling to find herself within a male-dominated society. Shabanu belongs to a very traditional family of nomadic camel traders. She suffers many hardships from her life in the desert and the daily labor of her family's subsistence but mostly from her authoritarian father. Just as Shabanu's body reaches adolescence and she begins to discover some of what it means to be a woman, her father arranges for her to be married. Trapped between childhood and adulthood, between her desire for autonomy and the awesome pressures that her society places members of her sex, Shabanu comes of age with almost shocking rapidity, but with an inner strength that will be long remembered by all readers of this work.


Real Gorgeous

Real Gorgeous - by Kaz Cooke

A hilarious and empowering book for girls and women who are insecure about their body image.


Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins - by Scott O-Dell

The story of a girl who is utterly forsaken. Her family is killed and she is the sole inhabitant of an island. She learns to be become utterly self-reliant & to survive, even without hope of ever being "rescued." This wonderful book about a courageous, resourceful girl who makes Nature her ally in her struggle for survival. I recommend this book for all young girls. It certainly had a strong positive impact on my own life.


Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves - by Jean Craighead George

This is another story of a young girl who is deserted. She is a native American in an unhappy family situation. She runs away, and by observing wolves in the wild, learns their customs. She eventually joins them, and is accepted by them as a strange new addition to the pack. But the book is no fairy tale. Eventually Julie must leave the pack, and return to the world of imperfect humans as an outsider. But she now knows how "curry favor" thanks to her experience with the wolf pack, for Julie has literally became a heartless bitch!!!! An invaluable book for what it teaches about the need for girls to develop independence, self-reliance, resourcefulness & self-respect.

(NOTE: The adult version of Julie of the Wolves is Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg).


Witch Baby

"Witch Baby" - by Francesca Lia Block

Witch baby is a screaming, kicking, curly-toed phototaking drummer witch who lives with her fabulous family of film makers in L.A. fairytale land. She's not sweet, not angelic, and never passive: plus, francesca lia block is an amazing writer who creates a character compelling interesting and inspiring no matter what your age is.


Matilda

"Matilda" - by Roald Dahl

Matilda is the brilliant little girl who tricks her slimy parents and sibling into all sorts of terrible predicaments, all the while plotting to save her teacher, Miss Honey, from the clutches of her evil headmaster.


Howl's Moving Castle

"Howl's Moving Castle" - by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie, the oldest of her sisters, goes off to seek her fortune and ends up battling witches, intimidating demons, and bossing around a cowardly lady killer.


A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver

"A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver" - by E.L. Konigsburg

This is basically a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Technically it's written for middle-school age, but it's really a great book, and still gets across the girl-kicks-ass, rules Europe, message that anyone gets out of hearing about Eleanor.

  

"Horrible Hebzibah"

A story about a REALLY Bitchy little girl who gets even with "Sweet Vanilla",the neighborhood "barbie doll". Yes, the bitch does win in the end!


The Enchanted Forest Chronicles - Dealing with Dragons


The Enchanted Forest Chronicles - Searching for Dragons


The Enchanted Forest Chronicles - Calling on Dragons

"The Enchanted Forest Chronicles" by Patricia C. Wrede

This is ananthology of 4 collected works. It's about a princess who runs away with dragons because she doesn't what to be a princess. She fends off would-be rescuers by explaining that she doesn't want to be rescued. It's a great series of books, written with a sense of humor.


Alanna : The First Adventure (The Song of the Lioness)


In the Hand of the Goddess (The Song of the Lioness)


The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness)

"The Lioness Rampant" series - by Tamora Pierce

They are all about a girl in a fictional world who disposes of all the prim and proper notions the men of a kings court have by becoming a knight, then a mercenary, all with out the help of anyone but herself and her goddess.

The fourth book in the "Song of the Lioness" series finds a grown-up Alanna defeating the evil Duke Roger after her sorceror brother brings him back to life as part of a bet. She also finds a magic jewel, becomes the first female Champion and all sorts of other heroic stuff.


Princess Smartypants

"Princess Smartypants"

A princess who rides a Norton, has a lot ofanimals and foils every attempt by would-be suitors. A classic.


Don't Bet on the Prince

"Don't Bet on the Prince"

A collection of fairy tales--written by men and women--where the female character has to be the "brave" one. A nightly read to older kids.


The Paper Bag Princess

"The Paper Bag Princess" - By Robert Munsch

A GREAT unconventional heroine who rescues the prince by outwitting a dragon. She decides not to marry the prince when, immediately upon being rescued, he criticizes her appearance.

"Ronald. Your clothes are really pretty and your hair is really neat. You look like a prince, but you are a bum."

And they didn't get married after all.


Girls to the Rescue Treasury

"Girls to the Rescue" - edited by Bruce Lansky

Tales of clever,courageous girls from around the world. There are ten, clever, courageous heroes in this book of fairy tales. They are all girls!

  

"My War With Google-eyes," by Anne Fine

It's basically about this girl, Helen who is a earth-conscious kid. She pays attention to politics and goes to protests at local nuclear power plants. Her mother, who is also a liberal, finds a boyfriend who is not. (Actually, he reminds me of Newt Gingrich, pseudo-charming in that way that makes you wanna puke).

Tell us about more books we should add to this list. Be sure to add some kind of short review or commentary about the book as well as the title and author!


Copyright© Heartless Bitches International (heartless-bitches.com) 2000, All Rights Reserved

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