Tag Archives: strong girls in literature

A Smart and Spunky Heroine

21 Sep

Six years ago, I met Calpurnia Tate in Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

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And then she was gone. Not forgotten, but off my radar.

I met her again this week in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

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There wasn’t a huge conflict driving the plot forward, but Callie’s episodic adventures really give you  feel for what it was like for girls who really wanted to pursue an education, let alone a scientific education, at the beginning of the last century.  I wonder if there will be third book, in which Callie actually gets to go to college. I certainly hope so. She has the brains, spunk and determination to get there.

Goodreads Summary: Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this charming follow-up to Newbery Honor–winner The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine

Fortunately, Kelly’s writing is wonderful and she creates a story full of heart, a scientific Anne of Green Gables. The narration has the gentle pace of storytelling on a Texas porch.

An excellent read for middle grade students in general, and for girls in particular.

 

Novels in Verse Featuring Resilient Girls

19 Dec

I have been known to encourage kids to read novels in verse by promoting the fact that they look like a lot of reading, but really aren’t. It is true, but that’s not really why I want kids to read them. I just simply love language and story. Verse novels indulge both of these loves.

Here are two new ones, worthy of your time.

Margarita Engle has made a career writing novels in verse. A few weeks ago I wrote about Mountain Dog. In The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, Engle returns to writing historical novels in verse that are set in Cuba.

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Banned books and rebel poets. That alone could interest me, but Engle’s verse is beautiful and quotable in places. She opens the book with

Books are door-shaped

portals

carrying me

across oceans

and centuries,

helping me feel

less alone.

Oh, my bookish friends, who has not felt this way? This is the story of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula, who opposed slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century by veiling her work in metaphor. A beautiful book about a stung female character.

Serafina’s Promise,  by Ann E. Burg, also features a female main character.

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Living in abject poverty in Haiti, 11 year old Serafina makes a secret promise to her deceased little brother Pierre that she will someday go to school and become a healer so that she can save little babies like him.But Serafina doesn’t go to school because it is too expensive.Challenged by poverty, flood, earthquake and Serafina remains undaunted.The details about life in Haiti create a clear picture of a world far removed from ours.

Both of these books feature resilient girls who set out to meet their goal in spite of the obstacles in their way.

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