Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Girl Books

Wilkins, Ebony Joy. Sell-out.
NaTasha is happy with her life in the Connecticut suburbs, even though occasionally she feels that she doesn't fit in with her friends, who are all white. When her grandmother feels that NaTasha is denying her black roots, she has her move to Harlem for the summer to work in a center for at-risks girls. NaTasha has trouble with some of the girls who feel she is stuck-up and trying to act "white", but everyone comes to understand that everyone has a story and needs understanding and compassion. Given the lack of stories for suburban girls of color, I will definitely get this one. There is a very brief scene where NaTasha repels the amorous advances of a boy she knows, but nothing graphic is revealed, and the fact that she stands up for herself and says "no" is a good message, even for middle school girls. I will be looking forward to more books by this author.

Martin, Ann M. The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before
When these books were first published, I was living in Greece, so I have NO memory of these at all. I do know that there is an entire generation of girls that was greatly enamored of these, and they may well have daughters old enough now to read them. Four girls living in the suburbs and facing different problems work together to put together a baby-sitting consortium. This is fine realistic fiction, but it seemed dated to me for several reasons-- one of the girls writes a letter to her divorced father, one is thrilled at getting a watch for her 12th birthday, there is a family with 8 children, and the whole idea of letting 11-year-olds babysit has rather gone out of favor.

Tomlinson, Heather. Toads and Diamonds.
This classic fairy tale is retold and set in India, where two sisters are given different magical gifts by a goddess masquerading as an old woman. This is a great retelling, and the descriptions of life in India made this very enjoyable. I just cannot move books set in India, even though I personally love them. If you have readers who enjoy McKinley's fairy tale retellings or Donna Jo Napoli, or have units who study fairy tales or India in depth, this would be a fantastic addition-- I just don't think it would circulate here.

Leszczynski, Diana. Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose.
From the publisher: "Fern Verdant's mother, a famous botanist, disappears just before Fern's thirteenth birthday, and when Fern discovers that she has inherited the ability to communicate with plants, she realizes that this is the only way she will be able to find and save her mother."

Again, the fine line between 4th and 5th grade and middle school comes into play-- even my 6th grade girls want more of a paranormal romance when it comes to fantasy. The cover errs on the side of too cartoony, and again, I don't see it circulating here. It would be very nice for an elementary school.


  1. We definitely need more multicultural characters in suburban settings, I'll have to take a look at this myself. We have a few girls who like to read our tattered old collection of Babysitters Club (I never read them as a child) but when I got some of the reissues they just sat on the shelf. It took people a while to realize what they were, I guess, because now they're VERY popular. I think elementary age kids would enjoy them more though. Toads has gone out well for us because of the pretty cover, and we have Fern in juvenile where several younger girls have enjoyed it.

  2. The toads and jewels story is one of my favorite fairy tales. I have added the retelling to my list - thanks!