March 29, 2016

Strong Girls

There are so many picturebooks that feature strong, girl characters, and I'm excited to share a few of my favorites with you today. These girls aren't grown up--they don't have the benefit of years of experience, or a skill set developed over years of practice--so when they persevere through hardships and mistakes, it inspires readers to feel like they can do they same. And it never feels didactic, it always feels organic and natural.

The first book I want to talk about is The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. This is one of my favorite picturebooks of the year so far. The main character Princess Pinecone is a willful, strong minded girl who uses creativity to solve the main problem in her life. All Pinecone has ever wanted is a horse, and this year she's determined to get one. She's made it very, VERY clear. So when her birthday arrives, and she winds up with a small, round, googly-eyed pony, she's not thrilled. Oh, and it farts. A LOT. The digital illustrations are funny, diverse, and provide a ton of world-building outside of the text. You will find yourself laughing at the physical comedy of the characters as everyone overcomes and accepts their own inadequacies. And the endpapers are adorable, as is the book case!

Next up is Rosie Revere, Engineer by the always-impressive duo Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. Rosie feels like the odd one out at school, dreaming of becoming an engineer and secretly working on projects all alone. But when her elderly great-great-aunt Rose, a former plane builder, shows up one day and tells Rosie of her life's regrets, Rosie's faith in others is restored, and she sets out to engineer the invention of a lifetime. Roberts created the illustrations from watercolors, pen, and ink, so they're soft with lots of definition and color. He gives his characters tons of personality through their wardrobes, surroundings, and expressions. We physically see how lonely Rosie feels when she's on the page by herself and how far she comes when she's surrounded by friends at the end of the book. Unsurprisingly the book case is also adorable, showcasing all of Rosie's interests.

Madam President by Lane Smith rounds out this week's post about strong girl characters. A little girl dreams of becoming president one day, and there's no time better than the present to start preparing. Nothing stands in this girl's way as she negotiates treaties between cats and dogs, kisses babies, and choosing her cabinet. The illustrations are clever in drawing links between everyday political ongoings and everyday aspects of a child's life: we see the girl compare giving an oral report to a press conference, and equating a note from her mom demanding she clean her room to dealing with sudden disasters. True to form, Smith's illustrations are funny and always require a little extra viewing to catch all of the pieces.

That's it for this week! What other picturebooks feature strong girl characters? Why do you think these books are particularly relevant today?

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