If you were asked who your favourite female character was, who would you choose? It’s a tough one isn’t it! There are so many great women in literature – Jane Eyre, Miss Marple, Elizabeth Bennett – and in children’s literature the list would certainly include Jo March, Lucy Pevensie, Fern Arable, Matilda Wormwood and Hermione Granger.
So who would I pick for my favourite heroine? I feel spoilt for choice, so thought I’d look beyond the classics and the names everyone perhaps knows or recognises. I want to point you in the direction of just a few heroines in children’s fiction that I have fallen in love with – those you might not have discovered yet (but I think you ought to).
Tiffany Aching – Terry Pratchett
If you haven’t met Tiffany yet, you really should! This fearless shepherd and witch-in-training is everything you could want from a heroine – brave, loyal, intelligent and always carries a piece of string, just in case. We first meet her in ‘The Wee Free Men’ and she has her own set of 5 books within the Discworld series. Armed with only a frying pan, Tiffany is a great role-model and all young girls need to be introduced her.
September – Catherynne M. Valente
Oh September, we do adore you! This heroine is offered a trip to Fairyland by a Green Wind, which she of course accepts, and so begins the grand adventure! September is not the sweetness and light of classic fairy story children – she is described as Somewhat Heartless, and Somewhat Grown – a girl who grows in her experiences, takes matters into her own hands and along the way forms some very lasting friendships.
Mina – David Almond
Some will have met Mina in the beautiful story ‘Skellig’ but since then David Almond gave Mina her own book, and it is just perfectly her. Not all favourite characters have to be of the heroic type – they can just be quietly strong. Mina is such a character – she doesn’t do anything epic or have wild adventures, but she does see the world in a special way. Mina invites you to look closer, see the detail in the little things, and have a curious imagination. She refuses to conform and forges her own path towards home schooling and self-discovery.
Lyra Belacqua- Philip Pullman
Many of us grownups have had the great privilege of journeying with Lyra to the frozen lands of the Arctic – we have met the Gyptians and wondered at the power of Iorek Byrnison, feared the Gobblers and longed for a Pantalaimon of our own. These books have a strong place in many of our hearts! I love to introduce them to new readers and tell them about Lyra – her bravery, loyalty and determination. She is a wild child, has a feisty spirit, but would be standing right there next to you when things got tough. What she lacks in personal grooming, she makes up for with her silver-tongue to get her out of trouble!
All these books are ageless in my eyes. By that I mean I would recommend them to a 9 year old or an 89 year old. I do believe children’s books should never be relegated to only a certain period in our lives – they have power for any lover of reading, regardless of where you measure on a height chart! This little list is of course just a drop in the ocean and I could keep going and tell you about why I love Coraline and Mildred Hubble, Daisy and Hazel, Alice and Momo…..literature is such a rich world, full of amazing people to meet and new friends to make!
So the question is…..who would you choose as your favourite female character?