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The Adventure and Spirit in Girls

In homage to the girls who will become the women for whom this history month is named, Parents' Choice offers the following booklist for stories of physical bravery, determination, moral courage, adventure and spirit.
Elena's Serenade Elena's Serenade
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Author: Campbell Geeslin   Illustrator: Ana Juan  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Anne Schwartz Books/Atheneum, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Who ever heard of a girl glassblower? In Mexico, where the sun is called el sol and the moon is called la luna, a little girl called Elena wants to blow into a long pipe...and make bottles appear, like magic. But girls can't be glassblowers. Or can they? Join Elena on her fantastic journey to Monterrey -- home of the great glassblowers! -- in an enchanting story filled with magic realism. Book Description

I Want to Be a Cowgirl I Want to Be a Cowgirl
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Jeanne Willis   Illustrator: Tony Ross  
Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (Hard Cover)   

Our feisty heroine has no use for the big city or what she considers the role of girls in her world. She wants to be a cowgirl in the Wild West-- with the emphasis on wild. The text, flowing across the bottom of two-page spreads, is humorous verse seemingly written in the child's printing. It is expanded and enhanced by the artist's funny interpretations of her vivid imagination.

When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Cari Best   Illustrator: Giselle Potter  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

An oppressive day in the heat of summer is saved by the positive attitude and ultra-preparedness of Sara's Russian grandmother, aptly named Catherine the Great. As Sara, Catherine, and their neighbors eagerly head out for a swim, one delay after the next thwarts their progress. But never fear: for every problem, it's Catherine the Great to the rescue in her own special way. Giselle Potter's quirky, wry-mouthed characters are rendered in appealing watercolors, full of the baked-brick heat of the city and gradually shifting to the fresh aquas and pinks of the long-awaited beach where Sara can finally "float like a flower."

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Deborah Hopkinson   Illustrator: Terry Widener  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Anne Schwartz Books/Atheneum,

This is an unpretentious, thoroughly engrossing baseball tale, guaranteed to please reader/listeners up to the age of ten. When she was two, our real life heroine Alta Weiss discovers that “I must have been born to play baseball” when she hurls a corncob at an old tomcat harassing her favorite hen and bops him directly on the head. By six, Alta had developed a mean pitching arm and bested all the boys in her hometown at the game. When a dubious coach in a neighboring town allows her one inning on the mound, it is all she needs to earn a permanent place on the Vermillion Independents, a semi-professional team.

Mary Smith Mary Smith
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Andrea U'Ren   Illustrator: Andrea U'Ren  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

For a few pence a week, Mary would travel through the streets of the English town in which she lived and wake her clients at whatever hour they requested, armed only with a peashooter and a pocket watch, she plinked dried peas at their bedroom windows until they arose. So just imagine Mary's shame when she returns home one morning to find her daughter sound asleep long after school has begun. And then share the knocker- up's pride when she learns her daughter has been sent home from class because she tried to wake up a sleeping classmate with her own peashooter and missed-- hitting the teacher, Miss Pinchitt, instead.

Anna the Bookbinder
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
Author: Andrea Cheng   Illustrator: Ted Rand  
Walker and Company, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Anna's Papa is a bookbinder who is losing work to big binderies that use glue instead of careful stitches. Papa gets an order from his best client who threatens to take his business elsewhere if the work is not completed within three days. Already rushed, the book binding is further delayed by the arrival of Anna's new baby brother. Anna, competent and caring, steps in to help her harried parents. Engaging, old-fashioned watercolors, lovingly depict Anna and her world.

Becoming Naomi Leon Becoming Naomi Leon
Ages: 7 - 10 yrs.
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan  
Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Press, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw and her little brother Owen live with Gram, their great-grandmother, in the Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho in Lemon Tree, California. Naomi is in the fifth grade, and Owen, despite his physical handicaps, is the smartest person in his second grade class. For seven years, the children have been happy and secure with Gram and her best friends, Fabiola and Bernardo. Happy that is, until their mother, Skyla, puts in an unexpected appearance. Skyla and her tough new boyfriend want to move to Las Vegas taking Naomi with them as a built-in baby-sitter for his young daughter. Despite the daunting nature of the accumulating problems this small family faces, Gram deals with the threats in a truly creative manner.

Honeysuckle House
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Andrea Cheng  
Front Street Books/Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Sarah and her best friend, Victoria, play imaginative games in a sheltered spot under the honeysuckle. One afternoon, Victoria's flaky mother bundles her into the car moving away without a word to anyone. Sarah cannot be comforted. When a girl from mainland China named Tina, joins Sarah's fourth grade class, everyone expects Sarah to befriend her. Sarah, who keeps telling everyone that she can't speak Chinese wants no part of it. She doesn't want Tina; she wants Victoria. Told in alternating chapters, the stories of Tina and Sarah gradually merge into a story which understands and values the depths of childhood friendships.

Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Gary Paulsen  
Random House Children's Book /Wendy Lamb Books, $12.95 (Hard Cover)   

Where is Molly's organizational notebook that contains her lists, schedules, and thoughts and how can she function without it? These are the dilemmas in Gary Paulsen's newest book that is bursting with wonderfully overstated humor. He is prone to exaggerations that will make readers grin. They will begin to suspect that flamboyant Grandma Irene has hidden the notebook in order to help Molly relax.

The Crow-Girl
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Bodil Bredsdorff  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

Near a little cove where a brook runs out to the sea live a girl and her grandmother. All alone with no neighbors at all, the two lead a peaceful existence. They have a house, dine on sea kale and mussels and sand snails, and build fires from driftwood. But the grandmother is very old. When the time comes that the girl must bury the woman, she makes up a funeral song about the birds she is watching: Two crows never fly alone, and death is never, ever past. The next day the same crows seem to beckon her, and so the Crow-Girl begins her journey, one in which she will meet people both warm and cold, hurt and hurtful. And the Crow-Girl, before she knows it, has the makings before her of a new family . . . Book Description

Because of Winn-Dixie
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Kate DiCamillo  
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Although she lives in the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, ten-year-old Opal has no friends. She and her preacher father have moved to Naomi Florida for her father’s new job. Here, on an errand to the local grocery store, Opal acquires a unique friend, a large brown stray that she names for the store Winn-Dixie. The dog proves to have exquisite taste in people; Winn- Dixie charms his way into everyone's heart.

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup Granny Torrelli Makes Soup
Ages: 9 - 11 yrs.
Artist: Sharon Creech  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Joanna Cotler, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Sharon Creech’s new book has two parts. In Part I, Rosie is miserable because of a fight with her best friend. She’s fortunate, though, to have a dear Italian grandmother who consoles her with soup. Granny Torrelli coaxes the story out of Rosie and offers her sound advice. In Part II, Rosie wrestles with being jealous, and Granny helps her cope with the help of homemade pasta. Anguish over fights and jealousy is all too familiar to children; the tales of the perceptive Granny Torrelli are affectionate and soothing. Creech presents a loving tribute to dear grandmothers, everywhere.

Ida B
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Katherine Hannigan  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Amistad, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

What do you do when your life goes from righter than right to a million miles beyond wrong? 1) Try to scare away the new neighbors with signs and posters that warn things like "Typhoons Known to Occur Here -- Water Rats Abound." 2) Avoid eye contact and word contact, with Mama and Daddy in particular. 3) Stay away from the orchard and the brook and the old tree and anything else that reminds you of how good things used to be. Or, 4) Put together the best plan you've ever created to get things back to just-about-perfect again. Book Description

So B. It So B. It
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Sarah Weeks  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Laura Geringer, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Twelve-year-old Heidi has a mentally -challenged mother who cannot tell her child about her background. Their devoted neighbor, Bernadette, who home schools Heidi and cares for them both suffers from extreme agoraphobia. She can't go out of her apartment. But Heidi has a surprising talent that helps her unusual family survive. She is profoundly lucky. While the child is growing up, this trio is happily self-sufficient, but as she matures, Heidi becomes obsessed with knowing her origins and becomes frustrated with her mother who cannot tell her. When she finds an old camera with film still in it among her mother's things, the fat is in the fire.

Wishing Moon
Ages: 12 - 16 yrs.
Author: Michael O. Tunnell  
Penguin Putnam/Dutton Children's Books, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Once the daughter of a scholar who worked in the Sultan's palace, Aminah becomes a destitute orphan who, not wishing to lower herself to begging, steals to survive. She decides to ask the Sultan's daughter for help calling to her from the street below her balcony. The hardhearted Princess grabs one of her husband's rusty lamps and beans poor Aminah on the head, knocking her out. When Aminah comes to, she grabs the lamp and scuttles into an alley. Rubbing the lamp produces a jinni of great power with a crabby personality. Using this device, literally and figuratively, our feisty heroine embarks on a highly original, frequently humorous story of wishes that, although kindly meant, often go awry - as wishes are wont to do.

Saving Francesca Saving Francesca
Ages: 12 - 18 yrs.
Author: Melina Marchetta  
Random House Children's Books/Knopf, $15.95 (Hard Cover)   

Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what’s best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian’s, an all-boys’ school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca’s surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother’s high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn’t yet realize that she’s more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian’s, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and—especially—herself. Book Description

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