Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cool girls in print: a blatantly stolen blog idea

Following a Google link for dreary work reasons, I happened upon this post from April last year:

Last week, I started a list of Cool Girls from Kid Lit. Here is what I specified for "cool" criteria: "they should be smart and strong and independent, people who would make good role-models for girls today."

I love the idea, so I'm starting my own:

1. Jo March, Little Women
My absolute heroine. Feisty, independent, stubborn, romantic and indefagitably loyal and honorable. Cutting off her hair ('your one beauty!') to save her family was such a marvellous gesture. And I liked that she had big fat flaws to balance her virtues. And, of course, she was a writer and loved books.

2. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables series
All of the above qualities (second sentence). I liked Gilbert a lot more than Jo March's beaux (as they called them in those days).

3. Ramona Quimby, The Ramona series
A spunky little tomboy with a naughty streak who always made her parents and sister laugh with her malpropisms and misadventures. Her heart was in the right place, though.

4. Josie Alibrandi, Looking for Alibrandi
Hmmm ... spunky, smart, feisty (a pattern emerging?) and incredibly likeable.

5. Alice, Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass
As may be obvious from my own blog title, I just love Alice to death. Of course, I also love Lewis Carroll's writing and the alternative universes he has created. The way he plays with language! Humpty Dumpty! ('A word means just what I intend it to. No more, no less.') The Red Queen! Richard E. Grant said recently that he read the book as a newcomer to England and immediately saw it as a delightful way of understanding the culture: they all play quite precisely by a set of rigid social rules or conventions, but the rules often don't make sense and the people are actually quite eccentric. But, okay, Alice ... she's adventurous, smart, stubborn and fiercely independent.

6. Judy, Seven Little Australians
It's a VERY long time ago that I read this, but I remember her being a Jo March-ish character, full of rebellion but actually incredibly decent. Pity about that father of hers ...

7. Dicey, Homecoming
Her flaky mother abandoned her and her brothers and sisters in a parking lot and 12 year-old Dicey kept them together and organised them to walk halfway across the country to find the grandmother they'd never met. With no money, no transport, no protection.

BAD role models

1. The Sweet Valley High twins, Jessica and Elizabeth
Every novel started with a description of their blue eyes, blonde hair and perfect bodies and by explaining that Elizabeth was the Good One and Jessica was the Bad One. Talk about madonna/whore syndrome all in one family ... Yes, I read these novels as a kid anyway. I had Barbies, too.

2. Veruca Salt, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
What a revolting little spoilt brat! But in such a melodramatic, pantomime villainess kind of way that I just loved her. Especially in the movie (the old one, that Roald Dahl apparently hated). What a brilliantly bratty song and dance routine she had ('I want it NOW!'). Sigh.

Feel free to add to this or argue ...

cross-posted at Jabberwocky


redcap said...

Ha! I loved the Ramona the Pest books. I particularly liked the one where she wore her jammies to school under her clothes and nearly died from heat stroke. And death to the Sweet Valley High twins. Trixie Belden was way cooler. I always wanted to be Trixie Belden.

Rosanna said...

Gosh, that Salt girl is a nasty piece of work. But I secretly love her - much more so than Jo, of Little Women fame, whom quite simply irked me.

eleanor bloom said...

I loved Ramona books too! And this ain't lit but Lucy from Peanuts was one of my favourites for her spunky attitude. Both these characters could be quite annoying - yet entertaining all the same.

I will also confess to reading Sweet Valley High books. They were all the rage in years 6 and 7.

One of my favourite books as a kid was Harriet the Spy. She ought to join this list for her dedication to stationery. Hey, can you imagine the blog she would have had? T'would be teh awsum.

actonb said...

Trixie Beldon rocked!!!!

I've never seen a Dodge car without thinking of her.

davey said...

Hey, what about Miss Eliza Bennett, Pride and Prejudice?

Witty, intelligent, humble, scholastic, quick on the quip.. not as beautiful as her sister Jane but infinitely more appealing.

El, HARRIET THE SPY!! How good where those books? Man I haven't thought about those in ages.

Hot Lemon said...

what about Sammy Keyes?? What about the plethora of good witches??

Ariel said...

Oh yes, Harriet the Spy rocked. And her blog would be brilliant.

Never got into Trixie, I'm afraid. Eliza Bennett is of course brilliant, but I was sticking to kids' heroines. If I extended it to grown-ups, she would be on the list.

Maria said...

I loved Ramona. I loved Anne of Green Gables, but I related better to Emily Starr (in Montgomery's other series, Emily of New Moon, it wasn't as well known). I also really liked Mary Poppins, though many think of her as a woman in the film rather than in print.

Amy, in Little Women, irked me more than Jo. However pretty much all characters in the book could irk me in some way, except perhaps Hannah the maid and Grandfather Lawrence.

I rather liked the "What Katy Did" books, though I preferred Clover and Rose Red to Katy, especially by boarding school, and Lily was a pain.

How about Pollyanna, Heidi, or Pippi Longstocking?

Maria said...

Eleanor Bloom, I read Sweet Valley books too, knowing it was garbage but addictive mindless easy-to-read garbage all the same. I think ELizabeth annoyed me more than Jessica; they were the teenage Mills and Boon. Gah.