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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: Feminism

Suffrage and the White Camellia

Suffrage Day  is a special  day in New Zealand’s history. Sunday 19 September 2021 is Suffrage Day / White Camellia Day.

Why is Suffrage Day celebrated?

On the 19th of September 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year marks the 126 anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand. The white camellia was the symbol of the suffragists.

Did you know? November 28th 1893 was the day New Zealand women voted for first time.

What is Suffrage Day?

Suffrage Day provides an opportunity for people to celebrate New Zealand’s suffrage achievements and look for ways to benefit women.

How do we commemorate this day?

  • Wearing a white camellia. Why? These flowers were worn by people supporting women’s right to vote in New Zealand.
  • Wear a The Suffrage 125 symbolWhy? The symbol draws on historical colours and icons adopted by women’s suffrage petitioners and presents them in a contemporary form. 
    image courtesy of women.govt.nz

Where can I find information about the suffragettes and and Suffrage Day?

image courtesy of syndeticsHindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history.

Four pivotal events in New Zealands history, (Women’s suffrage, Springbok tour, Dawn raids  and Rainbow warrior), are examined through a variety of source materials and commentary that enlivens the event and describes its impact on our society and growth as a nation. Hindsight is a resource for all schools and libraries. These topics are linked to the social sciences and history syllabus Years 7-11. An authoritative and engaging text, with high visual appeal. Buyers will be given access to download resources from our website, that will be updated as required. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsThe book of gutsy women : favourite stories of courage and resilience.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them–women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there’s a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book. So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. […] Edie Windsor, Diana Nyad, Rachel Carson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mary Beard, Wangari Maathai, Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai — to us, they are all gutsy women — leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available as an eBook

image courtesy of syndeticsSuffragettes : the fight for votes for women.

‘Queen Victoria is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad wicked folly of women’s rights, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor sex is bent’. 1870. It was a bloody and dangerous war lasting several decades, won finally by sheer will and determination in 1928. Drawing on extracts from diaries, newspapers, letters, journals and books, Joyce Marlow has pieced together this inspiring, poignant and exciting history using the voices of the women themselves. Some of the people and events are well-known, but Marlow has gone beyond the obvious, particularly beyond London, to show us the ordinary women – middle and working-class, who had the breathtaking courage to stand up and be counted – or just as likely hectored, or pelted with eggs. These women were clever and determined, knew the power of humour and surprise and exhibited ‘unladylike’ passion and bravery. Joyce Marlow’s anthology is lively, comprehensive, surprising and triumphant.’ (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsHidden heroines : the forgotten suffragettes.

The story of the struggle for women’s suffrage is not just that of the Pankhursts and Emily Davison. Thousands of others were involved in peaceful protest–and sometimes more militant activity–and they includes women from all walks of life. This book presents the lives of 48 less well-known women who tirelessly campaigned for the vote, from all parts of Great Britain and Ireland, risking ridicule and condemnation from family and friends. They were the hidden heroines who paved the way for women to gain greater equality in Britain. (Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndeticsRise up, women! : the remarkable lives of the suffragettes.

“Between the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of the First World War, while the patriarchs of the Liberal and Tory parties vied for supremacy in parliament, the campaign for women’s suffrage was fought with great flair and imagination in the public arena. Led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, the suffragettes and their actions would come to define protest movements for generations to come. From their marches on Parliament and 10 Downing Street, to the selling of their paper, Votes for Women, through to the more militant activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose slogan ‘Deeds Not Words!’ resided over bombed pillar-boxes, acts of arson and the slashing of great works of art, the women who participated in the movement endured police brutality, assault, imprisonment and force-feeding, all in the relentless pursuit of one goal: the right to vote. A hundred years on, Diane Atkinson celebrates the lives of the women who answered the call to ‘Rise Up’; a richly diverse group that spanned the divides of class and country, women of all ages who were determined to fight for what had been so long denied. Actresses to mill-workers, teachers to doctors, seamstresses to scientists, clerks, boot-makers and sweated workers, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English; a wealth of women’s lives are brought together for the first time, in this meticulously researched, vividly rendered and truly defining biography of a movement.”–Dust jacket cover. Also available as an eAudiobook.

Click here for more books about suffragettes.

International Women’s Month: #ChooseToChallenge

Well it’s March again, already and that means it’s International Women’s Month, with International Women’s Day specifically celebrated on March 8th.  This year the official theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge.  Challenge comes in many forms – you can challenge the status quo, challenge yourself, challenge others and of course, challenge gender bias and inequality.  So I’ve put together a list of biographies about women who have chosen to challenge in many forms.

Bad girls & wicked women : the most powerful, shocking, amazing, thrilling and dangerous women of all time / Stradling, Jan

“An historic survey of 22 of the most ruthless and ambitious women in history.” (Catalogue)

Yassmin’s story : who do you think I am? / Abdel-Magied, Yassmin

“At 21, Yassmin found herself working on a remote Australian oil and gas rig; she was the only woman and certainly the only Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian-with-some-Turkish-and-Moroccan-background Muslim woman. With her hijab quickly christened a “tea cosy” there could not be a more unlikely place on earth for a young Muslim woman to want to be. This is the story of how she got there, where she is going, and how she wants the world to change. Born in the Sudan, Yassmin and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two, and she has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organization focused on helping young people to work for positive change in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year. In 2011 Yassmin graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (First Class Honours), and in 2012 she was named Young Leader of the Year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards as well as an InStyle cultural leader and a Marie Claire woman of the future.” (Catalogue)

Fattily ever after / Yeboah, Stephanie

“Twenty-nine year-old plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah has experienced racism and fat-phobia throughout her life. From being bullied at school to being objectified and humiliated in her dating life, Stephanie’s response to discrimination has always been to change the narrative around body-image and what we see as beautiful. In her debut book, Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah speaks openly and courageously about her own experience on navigating life as a black, plus-sized woman – telling it how it really is – and how she has managed to find self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife. Featuring stories of every day misogynoir and being fetishized, to navigating the cesspit of online dating and experiencing loneliness, Stephanie shares her thoughts on the treatment of black women throughout history, the marginalisation of black, plus-sized women in the media (even within the body-positivity movement) whilst drawing on wisdom from other black fat liberation champions along the way. Peppered with insightful tips and honest advice and boldly illustrated throughout, this inspiring and powerful book is essential reading for a generation of black, plus-sized women, helping them to live their life openly, unapologetically and with confidence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

AOC : the fearless rise and powerful resonance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“From the moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a ten-term incumbent in the primary election for New York’s 14th, her journey to the national, if not world, stage, was fast-tracked. Six months later, as the youngest Congresswoman ever elected, AOC became one of a handful of Latina politicians in Washington, D.C. Just thirty, she represents her generation, the millennials, in many groundbreaking ways: proudly working class, Democratic Socialist, of Puerto Rican descent, master of social media, not to mention of the Bronx, feminist–and a great dancer. AOC investigates her symbolic and personal significance for so many, from her willingness to use her imperfect bi-lingualism, to why men are so threatened by her power, to the long history of Puerto Rican activism that she joins. (Adapted from Catalogue)

In her footsteps : where trailblazing women changed the world / Averbuck, Alexis

“Discover the lives and locations of trailblazing women who changed the course of history. From the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt and Empress Dowager Cixi’s summer palace in Beijing, to the homes and meeting sites of suffragette heroes Sylvia Pankhurst and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the creative workrooms of Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf, and the tennis courts where the Williams sisters first learned to play – we showcase female pioneers whose lives and actions continue to inspire today. In Her Footsteps is not only a celebration of incredible women, but a travel guide to the places where they studied, lived, worked, reigned and explored. We’ll tell you where to find the secret feminist history of sites around the world. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fight like a girl : 50 feminists who changed the world / Barcella, Laura

Fight Like a Girl profiles fifty iconic women who have worked to further women’s rights in a wide variety of ways.

Nearly every day there’s another news story or pop cultural anecdote related to feminism and women’s rights. #YesAllWomen, conversations around consent, equal pay, access to contraception, and a host of other issues are foremost topics of conversation in American (and worldwide) media right now. Today’s teens are encountering these issues from a different perspective than any generation has had before, but what’s often missing from the current discussion is an understanding of how we’ve gotten to this place. Fight Like a Girl will familiarize readers with the history of feminist activism, in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the cause of women’s rights. Profiles of both famous and lesser-known feminists will be featured alongside descriptions of how their actions affected the overall feminist cause, and unique portraits (artist’s renderings) of the feminists themselves. This artistic addition will take the book beyond simply an informational text, and make it a treasure of a book.” (Catalogue)

Jacinda Ardern : a new kind of leader / Chapman, Madeleine

“New Zealand’s prime minister has been hailed as a leader for a new generation, tired of inaction in the face of issues such as climate change and far-right terrorism.

Her grace and compassion following the Christchurch mosque shooting captured the world’s attention. Oprah Winfrey invited us to ‘channel our inner Jacindas’ as praise for Ardern flooded headlines and social media. The ruler of this remote country even made the cover of Time.

In this revealing biography, journalist Madeleine Chapman discovers the woman behind the headlines. Always politically engaged and passionate, Ardern is uncompromising and astute. She has encountered her fair share of sexism, but rather than let that harden her, she advocates ‘rising above’ disparagers. In her first press conference, she announced an election campaign of ‘relentless positivity’. The tactic was a resounding success- donations poured in and Labour rebounded in the polls.

But has Ardern lived up to her promise? What political concessions has she had to make? And beyond the hype, what does her new style of leadership look like in practice?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Know your place / Ghahraman, Golriz

“The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history

When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong. The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong.” (Catalogue)

Not that I’d kiss a girl : a Kiwi girl’s tale of coming out and coming of age / O’Brien, Lil

“‘Not That I’d Kiss a Girl triumphantly joins the select few New Zealand examples of the autobiographical coming-out genre. Compulsively readable and very much aware of the world, O’Brien’s memoir is suspenseful and engaging.’ David Herkt, New Zealand Herald.

A heartbreaking and hilarious true story of coming out as gay in New Zealand.” (Catalogue)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg : a life / De Hart, Jane Sherron

“The definitive account of an icon who shaped gender equality for all women. In this comprehensive, revelatory biography — fifteen years of interviews and research in the making — historian Jane Sherron De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, and her meticulous jurisprudence. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs was her Jewish background, specifically the concept of tikkun olam, the Hebrew injunction to ‘repair the world’, with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. Ruth’s journey began with her mother, who died tragically young but  whose intellect inspired her daughter’s feminism. It stretches from Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School to Cornell University to Harvard and Columbia Law Schools; to becoming one of the first female law professors in the country and having to fight for equal pay and hide her second pregnancy to avoid losing her job; to becoming the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and arguing momentous anti-sex-discrimination cases before the US Supreme Court. All this, even before being nominated in 1993 to become the second woman on the Court, where her crucial decisions and dissents are still making history. Intimately, personably told, this biography offers unprecedented insight into a pioneering life and legal career whose profound impact will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Sitting pretty : the view from my ordinary resilient disabled body / Taussig, Rebekah

“A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting-pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most. Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life. Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Want to explore more biographies about women?  Click here to begin.

Books to Help You Set Your Inner Poet Free!

If you’re as excited about Tūhono, our new poetry journal for young Wellington writers, as we are, you’ll have been working away furiously on your submission piece for weeks already. But we all need a bit of inspiration from time to time, so I asked the arcane sorcerers (and sorceresses) who stare into the metaphorical crystal ball of publisher summary releases and buy our books to choose some of their favourite poetry books from the YA collection for you to sink your claws into and extract whatever poetical life-force you need.

 Amen.

 

Some of these books come from the deepest, darkest depths of our collection warehouse — feel free to place a reserve, and our shelf-hopping minions will locate the book you crave and send it forth to whichever library location you choose. Some call it magic; we call it the Dewey Decimal System.


Poems to live your life by
In this gorgeous anthology, award-winning illustrator (and friend to libraries — yeah, we love this guy!) Chris Riddell has selected 46 poems to live your life by. Poems by both classic and modern poets sit alongside each other, including works from Shakespeare, Carol Anne Duffy, Neil Gaiman, Nick Cave, and W.B. Yeats. The poems are dividing into sections covering musings, youth, family, love, imagining, nature, war, and endings. A great place to start your poetic journey.


Poems to fall in love with / Riddell, Chris
Look, we admit it. We’re suckers for a good old love poem, okay? And we’re suckers for anything by Chris Riddell. This is, you guessed it, a whole anthology dedicated to LURRRVVVEEEE. Selected and edited by our boy Chris, this is another beautiful book that you won’t want to return to the library any time soon! Featuring classic love poems alongside more modern offerings, this book is an inspiring and heart-warming celebration of love in all its forms. <3


Overdrive cover SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This, Nikita Gill (ebook)
If you’re not familiar with slam poetry, um, get enlightened, folks. It’s a form of performance poetry that combines elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation. In this eBook collection, Nikita Gill brings together a group of well-known and emerging poets from the spoken word scene who share their poetry and tips for creating awesome, inspiring, high energy slam poetry!


She is fierce : brave, bold and beautiful poems by women
This is a powerful collection of 150 poems written by women, that was published to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage. A range of different voices are represented — suffragettes, schoolgirls, slam poets, mothers, kitchen maids, and activists. We couldn’t recommend it more highly!


For everyone / Reynolds, Jason
This inspirational long-form poem was written and performed by Jason Reynolds as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Dean Myers. Like the title says, though, it is for everyone — everyone who is a dreamer, who dreams of being more than they are, and wants to make their dreams come true. Sometimes your dreams take time to take shape. You just have to remember that sometimes, all it can take is a poem, a nod, a nothing to lose.


I thought I’d finish by sharing with you one of my favourite poems of all time, by the late, great Tom Leonard. Read it out loud — as all poetry should be read. Read it to someone you love. It just might change your life!

A Summer’s Day

yir eyes ur
eh
a mean yir

pirrit this wey
ah thingk yir
byewtifl like ehm

fact
fact a thingk yir
ach a luvyi thahts

thahts
jist thi wey it is like
thahts ehm
aw ther iz ti say

(© Tom Leonard, 1996)

New Simultaneous Collections on OverDrive!

We heard a rumour that you guys might quite like books. We also like books. So, we’ve created a new collection of always-available eBooks and audiobooks for you to enjoy any time, anywhere. Check out the Teen Book Club Reads section on OverDrive or Libby for the full list, but for now, here are some of our faves:

Overdrive cover Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (ebook)
{LGBTQ+, romance, slice-of-life}
Two Boys Kissing is a cornerstone work of queer YA literature. Told from the perspectives of four boys “under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS,” this book explores questions of identity and emotion, and the often intimate connections between history and the personal. While you’re drying your eyes and restoring your breathing patterns to normal following this essential book, check out our LGBTQIA+ Fiction booklist for your next literary fix.

Overdrive cover Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (ebook)
{NZ author, small town, coming-of-age}
We’ve already talked about our enduring love for this book, which is a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, on a previous post on this very blog. Trust us when we say that you will not regret immersing yourself in the unforgettably wry and observational voice of 15-year-old Ricky, crafted and shaped by Damien Wilkins’ bold and beguiling prose.

Overdrive cover Monster, Michael Grant (ebook)
{dystopian, science fiction, action}
From the author of the crazily popular Gone series comes this new trilogy, available for the first time on OverDrive as a Book Club read. In the aftermath of the Perdido Beach meteorite and the deadly wave of mutations that followed, Earth is once again being struck by meteorites bearing an even more deadly virus. This time, the whole world is exposed, and humans are beginning to change, again, some gaining unfathomable power. Sound like your kind of thing? We have the follow-ups Hero and Villain available for your delectation as well.

Overdrive cover You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate (ebook)
{non fiction, art, creative writing, comics}
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of creating graphic novels and comics, this nifty guide is meant for you! It starts at the start — with the story — and shows you the ropes as you move through the whole creative process, from drawing techniques and layout/structure tips, to how to deal with creative block and building strong and recognisable characters. Who knows, we may just see your work on our shelves in the zine collections at Arapaki, He Matapihi, and Newtown Libraries!

Overdrive cover Feminism, Nadia Abushanab Higgins (ebook)
{non fiction, feminism, social sciences, women}
This book is a concise and well-written introduction to the concepts and movements embodied by the word ‘feminism,’ which author Nadia Abushanab Higgins describes as “America’s new F-word.” Although it does have an undeniable focus on the history and contemporary definitions of feminism in the United States, it still provides a useful international perspective on the movement through really interesting profiles of pioneers including Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Elizabeth Stanton, and more. If you’re interested in the intersectionality between feminism and the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements, we have a great introduction for you here.

The 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project

Each year the Amelia Bloomer Project, the brain child of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table (phew!), puts out a list of books published that are “the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18”. The 2013 list is here.

Thanks to Fiona for keeping up to date with the fabulous Amelia Bloomer!

If you’re interested in feminist literature, there’s also the 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader.

New Fiction

Some make-believe to counterbalance all the non-fiction. Lots and lots of fairies, plus a mermaid and one or two regular folk.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray (390 pages) – <3 the cover. Don’t be fooled! This is not just a book about lipstick as ammunition, and aqua bikinis with little white dots. This is kind of beauty pageant meets Lost (the TV programme), complete with pirates and a few lessons in feminism. The premise: a plane carrying the fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashes on a deserted island, leaving them to fend for themselves: “welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness” (book cover.

First sentence: “Are you all right?”

Tempestuous, Lesley Livingston (361 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy (Wondrous Strange and Darklight are the other two) in which Kelley Winslow discovers she is not only a Shakespearean actor but also a powerful fairy in a world she didn’t know existed. Kelley’s determined to get Sonny back, but she must also find out who’s trying to make the Janus Guards go over to the dark side, try and rebuild her theatre company, and not get distracted by the Fenrys Wolf (in a love triangle sort of way).

First sentence: The antique black carriage sped through the night, its tall spoked wheels whirring, skimming the surface of the river as though the spectral horse that pulled it followed a paved track.

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon (348 pages) – if you read and enjoyed The Call of the Wild and White Fang then this might interest you. It’s a fictionalised account of Jack London’s teenage life, where he finds himself heading for the Yukon in search of gold. What greets him is kidnapping, slavery and murder, and a supernatural twist. It’s also beautifully illustrated, in the style of a Jack London novel.

First sentence: Jack London stood on the deck of the Umatilla and looked out upon the docks of San Francisco, wondering how long it would be before he saw the city again.

Born at Midnight, C C Hunter (398 pages) – The first in a new supernatural series. After getting into trouble Kylie is sent to a camp for troubled teens, but it quickly becomes clear they’re not just ordinary teens. Plus: Kylie’s not a normal teen either. To complicate matters there’s Derek and Lucas.

First sentence: “This isn’t funny!” her father yelled.

The Dead I Know, Scot Gardner (208 pages) – scarily, Aaron is a sleepwalker. More so, he has weird unexplainable dreams and blanks where there should be memories. He must uncover the truth about his past in order to ensure his safe future. A gripping psychodrama.

First sentence: The office of JKB Funerals was a majestic orange-brick addition to a modest orange-brick house.

Illusions, Aprilynne Pike (375 pages) – following on from Wings and Spells. Laurel finds herself in a bind: “As her senior year of high school starts, Laurel is just beginning to adjust to Tamani’s absence when he suddenly reappears, telling her he must guard her against the returning threat of the trolls that pose a danger both to her and to Avalon.” (Library catalogue)

First sentence: The halls of Del Norte High buzzed with first-day-of-school chaos as Laurel wedged herself through a crowd of sophomores and spotted David’s broad shoulders.

Forgive My Fins, Tera Lynn Childs (293 pages) – Lily Sanderson is part human, part mermaid, and this has been the cause of much inner turmoil for her. Trying to find where she belongs, she’s enrolled (as a human) in Seaview High School and things are going well: there’s even Brody. Trouble is, mermaids bond for life, which isn’t necessarily the best scenario for high school, and to top it off, her efforts to win Brody’s heart without letting on who she really is are sure to get her into a large pickle.

First sentence: Water calms me.

The Iron Queen, Julie Kagawa (359 pages) – following on from The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. Meghan is half fairy, half human, and is being pulled into a conflict against the Iron Fey: a conflict she may not survive. All this while being torn from Ash, who seems to be quite special, judging by the rave reviews he’s been getting on the www.

First sentence: Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

Tales from the Tower, Volume 1: The Wilful Eye (302 pages) – six short stories by authors including Margaret Mahy, Margo Lanagan and Isobelle Carmody. The premise: each writer takes a classic fairytale and “casts their own spell upon it.” The results are stories for fairy tale enthusiasts who like their fairytales gritty and provocative, rather than happily ever after-ish.

First sentence (from ‘Catastrophic Disruption of the Head’ by Margo Lanagan): Who believes in his own death?

En ee double-you books

My So-Called Death, by Stacey Jay (229 pages) – Karen snuffs it in a cheerleading accident. But she is re-animated somehow! And now, as a zombie, enrols in a boarding school for the undead. There she must a. solve a mystery and b. fall for gorgeous walking cadaver, Gavin.

First line: ‘My very short-lived career at Peachtree High ended the day I fell from the top of the stunt pyramid and died.

Escape Under the Forever Sky, by Eve Yohalem (220 pages) – Lucy is the daughter of the US ambassador to Ethiopa. She’s not allowed to leave the embassy compound. But then she’s kidnapped! Left to fend for herself in the Ethiopian wild, she survives by being smart, clever, and couragous. Based on a true story too.

First lines: ‘Dust is everywhere. Red-brown, soft as silt. It coats the windshield, the dashboard, our clothes, our skin.

The Great Wild Sea, by M. H. Herlong (283 pages) – Another story of survival. Three brothers are left on a rickety old boat after their dad disappears. They’re in the middle of nowhere! Together they face a massive storm and forty-foot waves, and then they’re left on a deserted island.

First line: ‘We drove all night to get to the boat.

A New Dawn : Your Favourite Authors on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series, edited by Ellen Hopkins (174 pages) – Some authors write about the Twilight series. Like the title says! Subject headings include ‘My Boyfriend Sparkles,’ ‘Dancing With Wolves,’ and ‘To Bite, or Not to Bite; That Is the Question.’

Wyrmeweald : Returner’s Wealth, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (409 pages) – I am excited by this book! The authors usually write books for children, and I have been hopeful they’d write a book for older people. And here it is! This is the first in a fantasy trilogy, replete with Riddell’s lush drawings.

First lines: ‘The most ancient of the great whitewyrmes turned his mighty head towards the horizon. His nostrils flared.

Three Rivers Rising : A Novel of the Johnstown Flood, by Jame Richards (293 pages) –  In May, 1889, a massive flood submerged Johnstown, Pennsylvania, killing 2,200 people and decimating the place. Look at these photos! This book tells its story in poem form.

First line:
‘Father says he comes for the fishing,
but in truth he comes to keep an eye
on other businessmen.


Identity, by Sandra Glover (233 pages) – Louise, Jessica and Cate are three girls who don’t know each other, and, in fact, live hundreds of miles apart. But their lives are somehow connected! Could it have something to do with cloning? Perhaps!

First line: ‘She jogged along the path, listening to her music, keeping her pace steady.

Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O’Brien (362 pages) – In the future the world is a dry, hot wasteland. The world is split into those who live inside the wall – the Enclave – and those who live outside the wall. The people inside the wall need babies from outside! It’s complex.

First line: ‘In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia’s ready hands.

Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials, by Rosalind Wiseman (282 pages) – Charlie moves to a new school and wants to shed her mean girl image. But it’s difficult to do for various reasons. ‘A fresh, funny, and juicy read about friendship, betrayal, and how far some kids will go to be accepted.’

First lines: ‘Here’s the deal. My name is Charlie – and, yes, I’m a girl.

Shadows : A Dark Touch Novel, by Amy Meredith (280 pages) – The first in a planned series. Sort of a supernatural romance, but with demons.

First line: ‘The ghost slipped between the two pine trees, moving silently, not even leaving footprints in the pine needles in the ground.

The Snowball Effect, by Holly Nicole Hoxter (356 pages) – ‘Having lost her stepfather, grandmother, and mother in the span of a year, seventeen-year-old Lainey unexpectedly reconnects with long-lost relatives, copes with her five-year-old brother’s behavioral problems, and endangers her long-term romance when drawn to a young man with an unexpected connection to her mother.’ Thanks, catalogue synopsis!

First line: ‘I wouldn’t say I’d been worried about Mom, but I’d known for a while that things were bad.

Your Skirt’s Too Short : Sex, Power, Choice, by Emily Maguire (247 pages) – This non-fiction book ‘discusses sex, power and choice in the context of young women’s lives, providing readers with the courage and knowledge to tackle these issues head on.’ This looks to be a fantastic intro to feminism.

Does My Bum Look Big in This? Body Image and the Media, by Lisa Cox (76 pages) – Another non-fiction book which offer ‘a behind the scenes look at the media industry: showing you how to critically and independently evaluate what you see, hear or read in popular culture.’ This is a great skill to have, frankly!

Top 10: Girls and Glass Ceilings

suffragetteA while ago we had an enquiry about fiction that explores sexual discrimination. We scratched our heads for a long time. Perhaps people aren’t writing about it any more? we thought. After a bit of digging around, here’s a list of some pretty respectable (mostly historical) stories in which female characters find themselves faced with glass ceilings, have to make difficult choices that go against the social norm, or shake things up a bit. (See also the list of strong female characters here.)

  1. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray. The Gemma Doyle books are all about girl power (although they might end up hitting you over the head with it a little bit). Gemma, like others listed below, must choose between exercising her not inconsiderable magical (and other) power, or marriage in high society late Victorian England. Magic and feminism have a close relationship here, an interesting topic to explore (possibly for an NCEA reading list, if your teacher agrees the books are up to scratch?).
  2. A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly. In A Northern Light (note: also called A Gathering Light) there are really two female characters faced with difficult choices: one is Mattie, a sixteen year old farm girl who has a heart of words; the other is Grace Brown, found drowned in the lake (true story) whose letters (that Mattie has) reveal the nature of her difficult decision and how it has led to her death. Mattie, meanwhile, struggles between a desire to write, a desire to be a good daughter and sister, and a desire for Royal Loomis, who has a heart for corn seed.
  3. A Voice of Her Own, Barbara Dana. The story of a youthful Emily Dickinson, admired by Mattie in A Northern Light (Mattie suspects she slid down the banisters and hung from the chandeliers when no one was looking). “When something is most important to me and I do not want to lose it, I gather it into a poem. It is said that women must employ the needle and not the pen. But I will be a Poet! That’s who I am!” (from the book description)
  4. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Jo is a determined tomboy with a passion for writing. The March sisters are brought up to have strong social consciences thanks to Marmee, the girls’ mother, who has sole charge of the household while her husband is away fighting in the civil war. Jo, like others here, must consider very carefully a rather appealing proposal of marriage.
  5. The Bride’s Farewell, Meg Rosoff. Pell makes a decision very similar to the one Mattie faces, but quite early on in the piece (like, on the first page), when, on her wedding day, she hits the road with her horse, Jack, and her brother, Bean, who doesn’t talk. Set in mid-19th century England, this story is muddy, cold, frosty and bleak, but quite beautiful.
  6. Flygirl, Sherri L Smith. Ida Mae Jones has two strikes against her: she is African American and she’s a she. It is 1941 and America has just joined the Second World War, and Ida Mae is determined to crack the male-dominated world of flying.
  7. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E Lockhart. Frankie’s ire is stirred when the boys of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds won’t let her join them (rather, she should be merely a pretty girlfriend). What better revenge, then, than controlling said Bassets, and masterminding their most memorable pranks, such as the Night of a Thousand Dogs, and the abduction of the Guppy? Life’s complicated though, and revenge isn’t always sweet.
  8. Dairy Queen, Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Sport. Should a girl be able to play on the school (American) football team? And if she shouldn’t, is that because she might get hurt? (And if she might get hurt, the boys might too, right?) If it’s not because she might get hurt, then is it because she might make the boys look bad because she’s as good as them?
  9. Princess Ben, Catherine Gilbert Murdock again. Ben (short for Benevolence) learns a lot on her trip to becoming suitable queen material, not the least being that marrying the man of your dreams isn’t the be all and end all: “… the girl who reads such fiction dreaming her troubles will end ere she departs the altar is well advised to seek at once a rational woman to set her straight,” she writes on page 338. Yes, okay, so she does marry the dreamy man (this isn’t really a spoiler), but it’s all about choice.
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre was originally published under the pseudonym “Currer Bell” in 1847, and is considered a notable feminist piece, with its depiction of Jane’s struggles in a patriarchal society. In popular entertainment it’s more noted for Mr Rochester. I remember it mostly for Mrs Rochester, mad and in the attic.

Books for the Feminist-Minded

Are you looking for books about women and girls who “follow their dreams and pursue their goals, challenging cultural and familial stereotypes to gain an education, taking charge and making plans for community, regional, national, and world change”? Then the Amelia Bloomer Project blog is a good place to start (and also the website, where the above quote comes from).

The site contains both fiction and non-fiction selected by a (deep breath) committee of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association, and they take their job seriously! There is some good stuff in here.

Some of my suggestions in my Top 10 Strong Females list made it into the Amelia Bloomer lists, so that’s gratifying.

So who was Amelia Bloomer and did she have anything to do with underwear? Her Wikipedia entry is a good place to start to find out – there are a couple of bio links at the bottom. For more indepth research you should definitely check out (ha, Simon!) look at [edited: Simon] the Biography Resource Centre on My Gateway (you’ll need to enter your library card number and surname when prompted). Here you can search for specific names (i.e. Amelia Bloomer) or you can search by occupation (“feminist” works as an occupation in this instance), gender, nationality… or do fancier Boolean things. This database is fantastic for NCEA research.