It's hard to find smart books for kids that are heavy on the good female characters but light on the Disney princesses. A part of the American Library Association called the Amelia Bloomer Project tackled the tough job of sorting through all the young adult books published in 2012 and naming their ten favorite picks.
The books were selected based on their feminist themes, excellence in writing, appealing format, and age appropriateness. The full list is below the cut, but here's a snapshot:
Anyone have any additions to the list or opinions on these? We covered Code Name Verity in December, with BiblioBitch Katie Presley declaring it like the Hunger Games, but much better. As someone without kids, the only one I've flipped through is the Rookie yearbook, which I found surprisingly great. It's a collection of photo essays, interviews, and diaries that my 12-year-old self would have found engrossing, inspring, and comforting.
I do like a close, confidential voice. It's very much like having an imaginary friend. Of course, I also love big 19th-century novels where God narrates from on high, dipping in and out of people's interior lives. But that was before movies—I really think film has changed fiction more than anything in the past fifty years. I'm not a fan of cinematic fiction writing, where we "see" everything, but we never really get inside a character's head. What's the point of writing a novel, then? Why not make a film? I love that visceral sense of being in someone's skin, along with all the secret shames and conflicts and fears and sensations and memories.
Here are a few key words regarding Jim C. Hines's The Stepsister Scheme. Snow White, promiscuous mirror witch. Sleeping Beauty, Middle Eastern assassin. Cinderella, Pregnant Prince-rescuer. Intrigued? I was, and also by the statement given me that this was "Feminist YA fantasy! Written by a DUDE!" when it was given to me. I was not disappointed. C'mon! Princesses with weapons, spells, and babies on board? I'M IN.
Feminist book-lovers will already be long familiar with novels depicting the rollback of reproductive rights, such as The Handmaid's Tale, The Misconceiver, and Woman on The Edge of Time. So is there room for another book looking at a the consequences of criminalizing abortion? Yes, there is—perhaps more than ever.
Let me start by saying that I'm a Hunger Games gal. I thought that series was the end for me; the top of the bold, brave mountain of perfect Young Adult (YA) literature. I would keep reading YA, I figured, but I would be standing at the top of Everest looking down to do it. How would it get better than Suzanne Collins' frenetic pacing, allusion to contemporary politics, consice, brutal descriptions, gasp-inducing action, and the name Katniss Everdeen? Let me tell you, friends. It could be about a war that has ALREADY HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE, equally terrible to Panem's child slaughter. It could have a female protaginist infinitely more invested in directing her own fate than Katniss was, Collins forgive me. It could still be as tightly wound as a top, as intricately plotted as any good twist-ending requires, and equally stupefying in violence and intrigue. It could contain the names of monarchs and spies, Nazis and codes. It could be Code Name Verity, the best book I've read this year, and the new YA Everest.
We've been posting for a couple of weeks about The Big Feminist BUT, a comics anthology about women, men, and feminism, and today's post is the last in our series. It's from Lauren Weinstein, author of Girl Stories, and the piece—titled "If This is All You Get"—is about one area where the many "buts" of feminism often converge—parenting.
Laurie Penny is an English journalist whose work on protest movements, sex, and desire has been at the forefront of feminist writing of the last few years. Molly Crabapple is a New York artist whose Victorian-inspired work includes Shell Game, a crowd-sourced series of ornate paintings of the 2011 financial-world metdowns and revolutions. This summer, these two kickass women travelled to Greece together, and their gorgeous new e-book, Discordia, is the result. The graphic novel–meets–travelogue pairs Penny's gritty, witty reportage with Crabapple's pen-and-ink drawings for an on-the-ground portrait of a nation adrift in both crisis and possibility. It's out now on Vintage Digital, and Emily McAvan chatted with the authors about meaning, mythologizing, and why Hunter S. Thompson owes a debt to his lady-journo forebears.
Whether you're shopping for a long-time comics reader or someone who's new to the world of graphic novels (maybe you're just looking for a good page turner for yourself, we won't tell), click through for some quality 2012 releases of the graphic persuasion.
Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words is a significant book because it is probably the only chance we will ever have to hear Wuornos' life story the way she herself narrated it. Wuornos wrote to her close childhood friend, Dawn Botkins, from death row for over ten years. This prolific volume of letters has been abridged and reproduced by editors Lisa Kester and Daphne Gottlieb with Dawn's permission and help. Dear Dawn comes a decade after Wuornos' execution. Reading the letters in the book, one gets a sense that "Lee" was trying to grasp at the truths of her own life as she wrote them down for Dawn—to get her story on paper before her death.