January 26, 2011

Thursday Thirteen (13)...You Go, Girl!

So, last week I posted 13 Princess Fairy Tales Of course I love princesses, and I love fairy tales, but let's face it: most princess stories lack girl power.  Most princesses dream of a prince coming to rescue them, instead of rescuing themselves.  Most princesses are portrayed as helpless.  Most princesses are just plain wimpy.  So, this week, I give you 13 books that portray powerful, independent girls! 

1.  The Red Wolf by Margaret Shannon E SHA  Roselupin is a princess and her father is a very overprotective king.  He thinks the world is far too wild for his dainty daughter, so he keeps her locked in a tower.  On her birthday, she receives a box of yarn with the note "Knit what you want", and so she does.  Roselupin knits a red wolf suit and breaks free from her tower.  When she is finally locked back in the tower, she has a plan to knit a "mousey" little outfit for the king. (Kelly Butcher)

2.  The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch E MUN
Beautiful Princess Elizabeth is just about to marry Prince Ronald, when a dragon smashes through the castle and Prince-naps Ronald.  Princess Elizabeth sets out to rescue her Prince Charming.  She meets the dragon and makes him do a bunch of dragon tricks, which exhausts him, allowing Princess Elizabeth to sneak by and rescue Prince Ronald.  When Prince Ronald sees Elizabeth, he doesn't say "WOW!  Thanks for saving me!", instead, he says You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess."  Oh no he didn't!  Princess Elizabeth leaves him wear he stands!  You go, girl! (Kelly Butcher)

3.  Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O'Malley E OMA 
This is one of my all time favorite books to read aloud to kids!  The book starts out with a boy and a girl telling us that they have to work together to tell a fairy tale.  They aren't excited about working together, and it shows!  The girls starts the story about a Princess named Buttercup who has 8 pretty ponies.  A giant Ogre steals the ponies one by one, until there is only 1 pony left.  Whatever will she do??  That's when the boy breaks in, sick of all the princess and pony nonsense.  He adds a twist to the story- the king hires this cool motorcycle dude to go and slay the Ogre and rescue the ponies, in  exchange for gold.  He rides up on his motorcycle and announces that he is going to save the princess- this is where the girl interrupts again.  The girl lets the boy know that girls don't need boys to save them, thank you very much, and that the princess can save herself.  So, in the end, the Cool Motorcycle Dude and The Princess work together to slay the Ogre and rescue the ponies!(Kelly Butcher)

4.  Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell E LOV  
Molly Lou Melon may be the smallest girl you've ever met, she may have buck teeth and the voice of a bull frog being squeezed by a boa constrictor, but the girl has confidence!  Her grandma has taught her to believe in herself, and that is just what she has to do when she moves away from her friends to a new town, and a new bully, Ronald Durkin.  Ronald goes out of his way to pick on Molly and embarrass her, but Molly continues to believe in herself and Ronald ends up looking foolish.  Molly is an unlikely heroine that lets all girls know that they can do anything and be anything... even if they are tiny! (Kelly Butcher)

5.  Girls  A to Z by Eve Bunting E BUN
This is a very politically correct alphabet book that features 26 little girls and the careers they would like to have when they grow up.  Some rhyming ABC books end up forced, but Eve Bunting does a great job: "Dana is a dentist,/Eve's an engineer,/Fiona puts out fires,/Gwen's a gondolier".  There are some very unique job opportunities out there, and it is nice to be reminded of them once in a while! (Kelly Butcher)

6.  Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Patty Heide E HEI Princess Hyacinth is not your average princess- she floats.  Her parents, the King and Queen, do everything they can to keep her "grounded".  They cover her crown with heavy jewels, they strap her to chairs with seat belts.  Hyacinth dreams of running and swimming and being free to float.  While she is kept in the palace, she watches the other children play and run and laugh- longing to join them.  One day, she is out of the castle and sees a man holding balloons and decides that this is her chance to fly free.  She takes off her heavy crown and clothes, grabs the balloons and floats into the air.  Her parents panic, because they can't reel her in.  A little boy catches her with his kite and brings her home safely.  From that moment on, Hyacinth flies free everyday and the little boy brings her home safely.  I know that the kids don't get the subliminal message that this book gives- and may be I am reading to much in to it!  This Princess will not be held down or kept from doing what she wants with her life!  (Kelly Butcher)

7.  Don't Kiss the Frog: Princess Stories With Attitude compiled by Fiona Waters E WAT
These slightly sassy stories feature troubled princesses, unusual kingdoms, and magical circumstances. Depicting the woeful lives of six fair royal ladies, each selection leads to the princess's happy ending, albeit through a unique series of events. Selections star Princess Grace, whose clumsiness causes her to lose her clothes, Princess Jane, who trades high royalty for her family's minivan, and Princess Rose, who searches for her own Prince Charming with a little help from a want ad. These quirky, independent heroines battle dragons and endure odds to conventional conclusions, and children familiar with classic fairy tales will enjoy revisiting characters such as the Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty, and the Three Bears. (From School Library Journal) 

8.  Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler E CUY 
While most young girls dream of dressing up in all the opulent finery of a princess, little Bess knows all too well that scads of bows, ruffles, buttons, and lace can become a bit tiresome. From dining with the king and queen to ballet and art lessons to hobnobbing with nobility, the ginger-haired princess spends her overscheduled days changing from one fancy frock to the next as she attends to an endless parade of royal duties. Cuyler’s buoyant rhyming text relates the busy day’s activities and contains lots of fun, fashiony detail. Maione’s charming, candy-colored ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict Bess’ ornate ensembles and the lavish palace surroundings, and the antics of the princess’ canine companion add an additional level of gentle humor to the whimsical scenes. At day’s end, Bess retires to her bedroom, where she can finally change into the clothes she secretly loves best—plain, white underwear.  (From Booklist)

9.  Princesses Are Not Quitters by Kate Lum  E LUM
Bored with their lives of pampered luxury, Princesses Allie, Mellie, and Libby enviously watch three servant girls "Out in the fresh air, doing interesting things" and decide to swap jobs for a day. The young royals eagerly run off to work in high-heeled shoes and towering bouffant hairdos, but after polishing the windows, scrubbing the fountains, and washing the dogs, they begin to realize just how hard they must toil. Their afternoon and evening chores seem even more daunting, from making butter to shearing sheep, but they persevere. The next morning, although exhausted, the formerly spoiled young ladies take pride in their accomplishments: "Say! I think- I made this bread!" With newfound empathy for others, they proclaim new rules: "WORK no more than you can do" and "SPEND an hour every day just SITTING in the gardens." (From School Library Journal)
10.  Olivia by Ian Falconer E FAL
Olivia is a plucky piglet with the energy of a whole barnyard. She never does anything is a small way, whether it's building a sandcastle, singing from her 40 Very Loud Songs book, redecorating the living room walls or trying on all her clothes when it's time to get dressed. She wears her mother out --- but her mother still loves her all the same. You don't want to miss meeting this memorable new character.(From Kidsread.com)

11.  Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton  E BUR 
This old-fashioned tale about one little snowplow's determination in the face of a small-town blizzard has all the charm and moral grit of The Little Engine That Could. Katy, a red crawler tractor, "could do a lot of things," Burton explains early on. In the summer she is a bulldozer, helping to build and repair roads in the city of Geoppolis. In the winter, she turns into a snowplow, waiting and waiting for her chance to be useful. Most of the winters, though, the snowfalls are mild and the town doesn't need Katy. But when the big one finally hits, the town is buried in page after page of powder. The power lines are down. The doctor can't get his patient to the hospital. The fire department can't reach a burning house! "Everyone and everything was stopped but... KATY!" Suddenly, the entire community is dependent on one little snowplow. Children love witnessing Katy's shining moment of glory and will inevitably admire her "chug, chug, chug" endurance. (From Amazon.com)

12.  The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke E FUN  
King Wilfred's three sons learn to become big, bad knights the way any boisterous boys would: "They learned riding and jousting, fighting with swords...They learned how to stride proudly and how to shout very loudly." At her father's urging, young Princess Violetta tries to keep up with the same lessons, "even though she was so small she could hardly lift a sword at all!" Despite her brothers' teasing and laughing, Violetta continues to practice--even secretly at night. Soon enough, Violetta becomes "so nimble and quick" that when practicing with her brothers, "their spears and swords just hit the empty air." But then King Wilfred does the unthinkable: For his Violetta's sixteenth birthday, he plans a jousting tournament designed to bring "the bravest knights in the land flocking to the castle" to win…her hand in marriage! Violetta is outraged: "You want me to marry some dimwit in a tin suit?" Fortunately, of course, the princess finds a way to come to her own rescue. (From Amazon.com) 
13.  Shelia Ray The Brave by Kevin Henkes E HEN
Fearless mouse Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything, and she flaunts her confidence by confronting real and imagined terrors daily (her imagined ones are particularly creative and funny). Finally Sheila Rae decides on a new challenge: she will go home from school a new way. When she gets hopelessly lost, her courage falters, but scaredy-cat little sister Louise has been surreptitiously following Sheila Rae, and proves her own bravery by leading her sister safely home. Louise mimics her sister's undaunted style all the way home, thus providing a strong language pattern for new readers. Librarians can share this one with small groups or recommend it for patrons without fear, for children will love it. (From School Library Journal)


    1. I like the Olivia books. The rest are new to me. The motorcycle dude one sounds fun.

    2. Great list, has given me some great ideas to add to my daughters book shelf.

    3. Thank you! I have a goddaughter and I'll definitely be looking into these for her.

      Happy TT,

      The Clockwork Courtesan

    4. The motorcycle dude sounds neat! I will pass this list on to my sister. She's a teacher. :)

    5. I absolutely LOVE this list! I have so many friends with little girls that adore princess-type stories...it's nice to finally find some which empower the princesses instead of forcing them to rely on someone to 'save' them. Thank you!!!

    6. #3 sounds awesome! And since it includes a boy and ogres I am pretty sure I could sneak it by my nephew!

    7. The only one of these I have heard of is Olivia.

    8. Lists about books are my favorite kind of lists! My daughters are a little old for these, but definitely going to check some of them out for my grand daughters.

      Happy TT!

    9. I haven't heard of any of these (except Olivia), but I may have to find them from my girls! We're trying to teach them to be independent, self-sufficient women, and it's nice to know that there's some age-appropriate literature to back that up!


    10. I love anything that David Catrow has illustrated, so thanks for the video! Here's yet another 'girly' book that I'll probably subject my boys to so that I can get a look at all the gorgeous pictures!