I want to thank Stephanie Burgis for participating in the March MG Madness with this awesome guest post! Be sure to check out my Review to learn more about Stephanie's MG book Kat, Incorrigible.
My Top 10 MG Heroines
The heroine of my own novels, Kat Stephenson, is a girl who launches herself all-out into adventure, defying social conventions to perform scandalous magic, parley with highwaymen, and shock all her Regency-era peers...
...so in other words, I am an ENORMOUS fan of strong MG heroines! Aeicha asked me to write about my very favorite MG heroines, so here they are in no particular order: ten girls who made me sometimes cheer, sometimes laugh out loud, and sometimes even cry. I love them all.
1. Aluna in Above World, by Jenn Reese. Aluna is a thirteen-year-old warrior - quite literally! Her fight scenes are breathtakingly vivid, I felt totally empowered just by reading about her and entering into her mindset - and then, oh, her romance (with a guy who LOVES her strength and power) is so sweet and funny, too. It starts with her...okay, I won’t give any details. But basically, it’s awesome! READ THE BOOK! ;)
2. Miss Penelope Lumley in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, a series by Maryrose Wood which begins with Book One: The Mysterious Howling. Penelope is a very responsible young governess who is landed with a perfectly extraordinary set of pupils - they were literally raised by wolves! Her adventures with them are hilarious - I laughed out loud again and again as I read, and I cheered for Penelope as she stood up for her small, howling charges.
3. Zoe in A Crooked Kind of Perfect, by Linda Urban. Zoe wants to be a concert pianist and dazzle audiences in Carnegie Hall...but when her dad goes out to buy her a piano, he gets confused and comes back with something very different. This book had the same quirky, funny tone as the movie Little Miss Sunshine, and I loved it...especially Zoe’s courage in making the best of a bad situation and absolutely GOING FOR IT - with sometimes hilarious results.
4. Mattie in Hound Dog True, also by Linda Urban. (I love Linda Urban’s novels!) Mattie is completely unlike Zoe, but I loved her just as much. Paralyzingly shy, all Mattie wants is to fade into the background, staying carefully closed away from danger...but her bravery draws her into more and more contact with the people around her, and I actually cried at the ending of the book because it was so wonderful to see Mattie finally embracing her own dreams.
5. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, by You Know Who. I do love Harry, but I identified with Hermione SO MUCH from her very first appearance in Book 1 (a geeky, bookish, brown-haired girl who always has to prove to everyone how smart she is...hmm, who could she possibly remind me of???), and by the last book, I just wanted to BE her. She grows up to be smart, strong, clear-eyed, sensible and brave, AND she’s passionate about civil rights even when everyone else sneers at her for it. As much as I think JK Rowling was right to end the series where she did, I love imagining Hermione’s magical adventures in later life (especially as hinted at by the epilogue of Book 7!).
6. Flora Segunda in Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora Segunda series. (The third book is finally coming out this spring, hooray!) I adore Flora’s verve, her sense of style, her stubbornness and her deep (sometimes conflicted) loyalty. I love watching her and her friends swagger around their fabulously weird and wonderful alternate-American fantasy world, Califa. I love her strong voice, the utterly unique way she describes everything. Most of all, I just love these books.
7. Neela in Vanished, by Sheela Chari. Neela wants to be a musician, but she’s also horribly shy. When her precious veena (a traditional Indian instrument) is stolen from a church in Boston, though, she finds her core of courage as she hunts down the stolen instrument, traveling from America to India and uncovering the legend behind the theft. I loved the mystery, I loved the international setting, and I loved the family dynamics (especially Neela’s relationship with her mother), but most of all, I loved watching Neela come into her own.
8. Allegra in The Mozart Season, by Virginia Euwer Wolff.
Allegra is another musician - hmm, that is a theme, isn’t it? Maybe I should explain here that I used to be a musician, too. When I first discovered this book, I was fourteen and determined to be a professional classical musician. I read this book with a shock of recognition - it was the first time I’d read about another girl around my age (Allegra is twelve) who was as serious and committed to music as I was. This book is about the summer Allegra spends preparing for her first finals in a major music competition, and even after I stepped off the professional music track myself, I kept on re-reading this book at least once a year.
It’s a quiet book, but it is beautiful. Allegra’s family is so vibrant and real, and her passion for music shines through everything. Even as she deals with the panic and stress and pressure of the oncoming competition - where she’ll be competing against adults - she’s also coming to terms with the complexity of adult life as it’s being revealed to her. It’s a coming-of-age summer, and it’s perfectly pitched...and I just love Allegra’s deep core of compassion and strength.
9. Anastasia Krupnik in the Anastasia series by Lois Lowry. I discovered these books when I was in middle school, and I just gobbled them up. I loved (and still love!) smart, stubborn Anastasia and her whole wonderful family - her poet/professor father, her artist mother, her precocious younger brother Sam. I identified so much with Anastasia, and I laughed and laughed at the farcical situations she ended up in.
I read every Anastasia book in my middle school library, and then last year, twenty years later and in a different country, I discovered an Anastasia omnibus on the shelf of a charity shop in Hay-on-Wye. I bought it with a little bit of trepidation - what if it didn’t work for me as an adult? I had nothing to worry about. I laughed and laughed all over again.
10. Catherine in Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman. Catherine is a medieval girl ordered by her older brother to keep a diary in order to discipline her mind and learn to conform. It doesn’t work! She is irrepressibly stubborn, grumpy, rebellious, short-tempered...and incredibly lovable. This was such a fun book, and I adored being swept into her medieval world, complete with captive bears that must be saved, shaggy-bearded suitors that must be somehow disposed of, and older brothers that must be taught their proper place. Just delicious!
What about you guys? Which heroines do you love? I’m always looking for more recommendations!
Be sure to stop by the March MG Madness home post and enter the big month long giveaway to win a box of MG books and swag, including a copy of the UK version of Stephanie MG novel! You can earn extra entries in the big giveaway by answering a question whose answer can be found in the guest post above...go HERE to enter
I'm an American writer who lives in Wales with my husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, our son, "Mr Darcy", and our crazy-sweet border collie mix, Maya. My MG Regency fantasy trilogy is being published in the UK as THE UNLADYLIKE ADVENTURES OF KAT STEPHENSON, starting with Book One: A MOST IMPROPER MAGICK, and is being published in America as KAT, INCORRIGIBLE. I've also published short stories for adults in a variety of magazines, anthologies, and podcasts.