Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Archive for March, 2011

The Importance of Being Hermione!

Posted by Steven Salvatore Shaw On March - 30 - 2011

Hermione 224x300 The Importance of Being Hermione!When I think about the greatest and stronger female characters in the teen literature genre, one phrase comes to mind. I can hear the voice in my head, peppered with a know-it-all snark, but earnest and honest with something to prove. She corrects her friend/soon-to-be love interest Ron Weasley on a spell he’s saying wrong:

“‘You’re saying it wrong,’ Harry heard Hermione snap. ‘It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.’

‘You do it, then, if you’re so clever,’ Ron snarled.

Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’

Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads,” (Rowling, 137).

At first, Hermione comes off as a typical pushy pre-teen girl character, someone who pushes themselves onto her friends and wants nothing but academic glory but as we get to know her in the Sorcerer’s Stone and the rest of the Harry Potter series, that kind of snap judgment couldn’t be farther from the truth. She’s very much a layered character who longs for acceptance from her peers and the magical community. She’s an integral part of Harry Potter surviving from book to book with her quick-thinking and technical brilliance as a witch. She’s strong in so many ways that tumble out of the pages and resonate with the reader. We’re with Hermione from the first time we see her on the Hogwarts express, all the way through the end of Deathly Hallows. By the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire, we see how far she’s really evolved and her growth becomes apparent; she becomes this tangible teenage girl with emotions and hormones as the sexual tension begins to build between her and Ron. It’s that natural progression over the seven-year span of the series that really draws me to Hermione as a character. She’s not just a smarty-pants; she’s the magical embodiment of a teenage girl. And not to mention the gorgeous and talented Emma Watson from the films is exactly what I imagined as I read the Harry Potter books years before Hollywood staked its claim. I often find myself mumbling, “wingardium leviosa!” in the same lofty voice as Ms. Watson whenever I put someone in their place.

hermione2 The Importance of Being Hermione!JK Rowling wrote Hermione with such careful detail and precision that I feel like I know her. Hermione shows us that teenage girls can be the smartest without having to feel sorry for their intellect. She demonstrates her bravery time and time again by standing up for what she believes in, like her house elf movement as one of many examples. And she sets an example of picking up and moving on in the face of adversity. One of the most poignant Hermione moments is in the last book, when she picked herself up and carried on after Ron left her and Harry to search for the Horcruxes alone. She didn’t curl up into a fetal position and wallow because the guy she loved left; instead, she kept on doing what needed to be done.

Hermione is more than just a great female character, she’s a role model. When I think of the best female characters, I think of her, even if she isn’t the main focus of the Harry Potter books, she’s just as important as Harry himself.

Photo Credit: iheartwatson.net & wehearit.com/tag/hermione

Diana Wynne Jones: Her Magic Lives On

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On March - 30 - 2011

Witch Week Cover 198x300 Diana Wynne Jones: Her Magic Lives OnThis week, the world lost one of the greats of children’s literature, perhaps the great of children’s fantasy. She was certainly the most influential author of my childhood, and since I decided to become an author myself, she’s been my inspiration, the author who’s creativity and prolificacy I dream of emulating.

I first encountered Diana Wynne Jones in seventh grade, a time when I spent every spare minute in my middle school’s library. I read many, many books in those days, but nothing blew my mind like Archer’s Goon. This was a book like nothing I’d read before. Jones had created a completely self-contained world, with magical attributes like none that I’d ever encountered. This wasn’t in-your-face fantasy with trolls and elves and a great quest. This was a world where things were just different. Absurdity existed alongside serious stakes, and complexity rose to the level of a smart kid’s imagination.

Once I’d finished Archer’s Goon, I went on to Witch Week. (Spoiler Alert!) On its surface, Witch Week was a book about a kid in a boarding school who discovers he has magical powers, but Jones had something to say about the nature and origins of prejudice and repression. In Witch Week, they still burned witches, but it turned out in the end that everyone was really a witch. Yep, everyone belonged to the repressed group and was forced to hide it. They informed on each other and acted as non-magical as they could, but inside, they all feared being found out. I still remember the moment I put that book down and mulled over what its conclusion meant.

diana wynne jones 100x150 Diana Wynne Jones: Her Magic Lives OnThe school library didn’t have any more of Jones’s books, and I didn’t read any more until I was an adult. That’s when I discovered that Witch Week was part of series of books called the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. When I revisited Jones’s world, I was just as impressed as I’d been before. I’ve still never read any books that combine magic and fun with complexity in the same way. I’ve now enjoyed the Chrestomanci books, plus Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels, plus some of her other stand-alone books, notably the masterful A Tale of Time City.

Diana Wynne Jones will be missed by everyone fortunate enough to have discovered her work. She wrote more than forty books, so that leaves a lot of us whose lives she made a little richer. I have on my shelf the last book I’m aware of: Enchanted Glass (2010). I haven’t read it yet, and now, I’m not sure I want to. I’m just not ready to get to the end.

Cover Images: HarperCollins

Jane Wants to Be Like ‘Harriet the Spy’

Posted by Jane Moon On March - 25 - 2011

harriet 205x300 Jane Wants to Be Like Harriet the SpyWhen I was younger, one of my favorite books was Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. Harriet was a smart-mouthed, confident sixth grader who carried around a notebook in which she wrote everything she observed. I wished I was like her.
I was too shy to be sassy like Harriet, but I made up sarcastic comments in my head every time someone was nasty to me. The closest I got to carrying around a notebook was my journal in my book bag. Just like Harriet, I wrote in a black and white marbled composition notebook. I figured out that using any book that had a bright, decorated cover to record my daily thoughts would just attract attention if I used it out in the open, and people were nosy.
There was one part in the book where I was able to relate to Harriet the most. I won’t give too much away, but Harriet does something that causes her classmates to alienate her and even act cruelly towards her. She spends her time in school alone and angry. I knew how Harriet felt. Through most of elementary school, I hung out with the same group of girls. We would sit together at lunch and go over to each others’ houses after school. But in the start of sixth grade, they suddenly decided they didn’t want to be friends with me. They made it clear they no longer wanted me around. Unlike Harriet, I never found out why. But like Harriet’s experience, I found that people’s opinions change and you find out who your real friends are.
I still have my copy of Harriet the Spy from the sixth grade and I re-read it every once in a while. Each time, I’m always fascinated by Harriet’s quick wit, her hilarious observations of people and her ability to speak her mind so easily. I still want to be like her.

Image courtesy of Random House Children’s Books

 

Sona Was Inspired by Jo March and Little Women

Posted by Sona Charaipotra On March - 19 - 2011

LittleWomen 450x600 Sona Was Inspired by Jo March and Little WomenThe other day, Dhonielle and I were walking along the streets of the West Village when she noticed a bad habit I’ve picked up over the years. I like to peer into other people’s windows. No, not in that way. I just actually love to see what other people’s lives are like — and looking into their space is a great way to do that.

I guess it’s the same with books — they give you a window into the lives of others. And sometimes, they inspire you to reimagine your own existence.

At least that’s what it was like for me the first time I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I found the March girls and their hard-scramble but utterly entertaining existence absolutely irresistible. I could see a little bit of myself in each of the four girls, Meg’s propriety, Jo’s impulsiveness, Beth’s introspection and Amy’s petulance. But already a dreamer, I could best relate to Jo. I, too, bristled against metaphorical corsets and tedious household chores. Like me, Jo had big dreams and bigger ambitions — and she knew that eventually she’d have to leave the fold, as cozy and comforting as it was, to pursue them. The more people told her she couldn’t do something, the more she wanted to do it. And in the end, she knew she would.

And of course, then there’s the fact that she was a writer. She was as nosy as I am, too. I can imagine the two of us walking up and down the streets of New York (or maybe San Francisco), peering into other people’s lives. She had countless stories to tell — she was practically bursting at the seams. That’s how I feel a lot of the time. There’s so much going on in my head, and I just want to get it out on paper.

So when I read Little Women when I was 11-years-old, I held fast to Jo and her big dreams. I found in her a role model for the ages, someone who inspired me to reach for bigger and for better. Someone who made me realize that in the end, when you truly have that story to tell, you have to strive to get it out there.

A Few of Amber’s Favorite Female Characters

Posted by Amber On March - 18 - 2011

There is absolutely no way that I could pick just one favorite female protagonist in all of children’s and teen literature as my favorite, so I’m just going to mention a few female characters that have stayed with me through the years.

mufaros daughter2 252x300 A Few of Ambers Favorite Female Characters

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, written and illustrated by John Steptoe

The first character is Nyasha from the renowned children’s book, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. Based on an African folktale, which some have likened to Cinderella, this book tells the tale of two sisters who are very different. One sister is competitive and selfish while the other is kind and generous. Nyasha is the kinder of the two. In the end,  after passing a string of tests put forth by a prince in disguise (most of which, if my memory serves me correctly, involve interacting with the less fortunate or doing something out of the kindness of her heart instead of for personal gain), Nyasha ends up with the prince’s heart.  It’s a sweet tale, and it holds an important lesson that we all need to remember every now and again. Not so much that being kind will pay off in the end, but that being genuinely kind and caring is an asset and not a liability. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.

Another character that I loved when I was growing up was Amber Brown from the Amber Brown series by Paula Danziger. I read that series like it was my job and it’s not just because she shared my name. Overall, I remember her as a very spunky and self-assured character that I admired.

Amelia Bedelia was another highlight of my youth. She made a string of mistakes but her heart was always in the right place and that’s what made her so loveable. The books that Peggy Parish created were fun and entertaining and oddly comforting for me as a child.

princess diaries1 103x150 A Few of Ambers Favorite Female Characters Lastly, once I became a teenager I admired another girl named Amelia. Mia Thermopolis from the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot deserves to be included in any list of phenomenal female protagonists. Mia was this ordinary girl who loved writing and had a crush on a boy who didn’t think twice about her.  In other words, she was me, but white and from New York City, and I’m sure many readers felt the same to a degree. Then Mia turned out to be something extraordinary—a real live princess.  And it was that idea that I clung to—the notion that maybe someday you, the reader, could turn out to be this extraordinary person with something to offer the world, too. It was inspiring.  And that extraordinary version of yourself wouldn’t necessarily be the result of something imposed on you by some outside royal title but perhaps something you’ve worked towards and nurtured, or better yet, something you’ve fought to hold onto and share with the world (in the spirit of Lilly Moscovitz, Mia’s best friend).  Mia, royal title aside, grows throughout the series into a capable person and her friend Lilly is about as feminist and political as a character can get.

What more could a girl want?

 

 

Photo Credit: Barnes and Noble.com/HarperCollins Publishers, Meg Cabot.com/HarperCollins Publishers

 

 

Riddhi Ponders Naughty Girls and Fairy Tales

Posted by Riddhi Parekh On March - 14 - 2011

the naughtiest girl in the school enid blyton s the naughtiest girl 195x300 Riddhi Ponders Naughty Girls and Fairy TalesPersonally, I’m not sure that a protagonist is always my favorite character in a book. There are many great novels and stories where the antagonists are crafted so brilliantly that they as enamoring to read about as the lead characters themselves. Like in Roald Dahl’s The Witches, one of my all-time favorites reads as a young adult. The story follows a little boy and his grandmother on their holiday, yet, it was the Grand High Witch who left an indelible mark on my imagination. Her power, meanness and cruel command—the way I imagined her voice shrieked—had me totally captured.

This month has me reevaluating a lot of female characters that I loved from when I was little. And oddly, even though many of them are from timeless and classic fairytales, I can’t see why they made the best female leads, why they were such a hit with little girls like me.

For instance, The Princess and the Pea: For the life of me, I cannot understand why I was obsessed with this fairytale. If you think about it, it is downright classist. A prince is looking for his perfect princess and for some reason it has to be a girl who can’t sleep soundly atop a pile of ten or fifteen mattresses with a pea under it? Seriously? Oh that’s right, princesses only sleep on feather mattresses or something and this makes them delicate and perfect. It doesn’t make any sense to me now, but I can swear that as a kid I loved this story and felt happy for the girl who finally became the princess.

Cinderella: Hmmm. Let’s see. A poor girl with a mean step-mother and step-sisters. Toils away all day. Magically gets a fairy godmother and voila, goes to the ball where she meets a prince. Somehow she wears a glass slipper that fits ONLY her foot. Bam, and happily ever after, she lands the prince. Hmmm. Why again was I so impressed? Perhaps I identified with her struggles? (Though I never even had to scrub the floor!)

Snow White & the Seven Dwarves: As enthralled as I was with this fairytale, this is what strikes me about it now: Weird story about a girl with amazing motherly instincts. Good singer. Naïve. Ate things that strangers offered her.

Rapunzel: I loved her for her long hair. Who didn’t want a braid that went all the way down from a tower to the bottom and could be climbed on? And this miserable girl is trapped inside a tower by this wicked old witch – my little girly heart went out to her. But rereading the story, it seems like what made it memorable and a favorite was my pity for her—and jealousy over her long hair.

Then came the spate of adventurous girls, who stumbled into fantastical lands and had mind-blowing adventures. My steady diet of the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton had me wishing I was Bessie and Fanny. Bessy and Fanny and Joe (who, in today’s politically correct versions of these books, are now called Beth, Franny and Joe), were perhaps even luckier than Lewis Carol’s Alice. These girls were daring, curious and thankfully didn’t know better. They had experiences that were magical as well as threatening.

For a while I was also hooked on Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl series, in which spoiled, rich Elizabeth Allen is sent away to boarding school. The series introduces some interesting female sidekicks like Joan Townsend, Elizabeth’s best friend, who tries to get her to behave. For the record, I was a well-behaved child, so I wonder why I identified with the naughty ones.

Speaking of naughty girls, I would have to say that the one female lead I still identify with the most is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Like Matilda, I loved reading. I loved the idea of overthrowing mean teachers and grown-ups.  I loved Matilda for her genius ideas to get revenge on Ms. Trunchbull. Cliché as it sounds, Matilda believed in herself and that made me believe in her.

Another outstanding female protagonist I came across recently is Ottoline from Chris Riddell’s book Ottoline and the Yellow Cat. Ottoline, is a young mystery-solving girl who likes splashing in puddles and writing in her notebook. She also has a diploma in disguises and has numerous collections of interesting things such as odd shoes and postcards.

Isn’t it funny? The female leads that strike a chord with me the most are all those girls who aren’t too girly!

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

 

Amy Still Admires the Genius of Matilda

Posted by Amy Ewing On March - 12 - 2011

matilda1 Amy Still Admires the Genius of MatildaWhen I was eight years old, I fell in love with Roald Dahl (in the literary sense, not romantically — Roald Dahl is one weird looking dude). The first book I ever read multiple times was The BFG. My grandmother noticed that I seemed to always have it with me, and began bringing me more of his books from the library where she worked. The BFG was quickly followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and James and the Giant Peach before I finally got my hands on a copy of Matilda.

Matilda is the story of a child prodigy, a girl neglected and often insulted by her parents (a crooked car salesman and a vapid bingo-lover), who have no concept of just how unique their daughter is. She plays a variety of pranks on them every time they’re horrible to her. When she begins kindergarten, her teacher, Miss Honey, realizes how gifted she is, but the evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, refuses to move her to an advanced class. Matilda soon discovers she has psychokinetic powers (she can move things with her mind) and uses them to exact revenge on Miss Trunchbull.

What I love about Matilda is that she’s so intelligent, and yet so accessible. Dahl creates a child-genius that I, as an eight year old non-genius, could totally relate to. She uses brains, not force, to achieve her goals — and shows us how effective cleverness can be. Also, she has a superpower that directly results from her advanced intelligence, giving braininess a quantifiably cool aspect.

Dahl is an expert at writing children who are abused at the hands of adults, and Matilda is one of his best. She may only be five, but she is a heroine to look up to and love at any age.

 Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the ShinsSince March is Women’s History Month, writers at Teen Writers Bloc wanted to honor the special theme by discussing strong, female protagonists in Children’s and Teen Fiction. When I visit the children’s and teen section in Borders or Barnes and Noble, I find myself climbing over middle school girls and their teen counterparts as they comb over book covers and discuss the “drama” in the texts. It is no secret that the children’s and teen book market is driven by girl readers (to the chagrin of our own Steven Shaw).

Girls like to read. Girls love to read. Girls crave the drama on the page. And the shelves boast wonderful selections for them. Growing up, my favorite time as a reader was from 4th grade to 8th grade (before the books in the kids’ and teen section became “reading for pleasure” and teachers assigned adult classics). I read books populated with middle grade girls that were spunky, loud, and strong who always seemed to land themselves in some sort of mischief.

For my March post, I’d love to focus on three great middle grade girls: a new kid on the scene Natalie Minks of The Boneshaker, Harriet of Harriet the Spy, and Turtle Wexler of The Westing Game. I adore all three protagonists for different reasons.

The Boneshaker 200x300 Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the ShinsA new girl in the world of middle grade fiction, Natalie Minks of Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, rides a Chesterlane bicycle and is brave enough to look evil in the eye as Dr. Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show rolls into her small town of Arcane, Missouri. Here is a summary from Amazon.com, “Natalie Minks, 13, likes machines—the way they make sense, the way all the gears and cogs fit together to make something happen. When Dr. Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show stops in at her father’s bicycle repair shop because a wagon wheel has fallen off and disappeared, Natalie knows that the man is not meant to fit into the machinery of her life. Her ailing mother has told her stories of bargains made with the Devil, and of besting wickedness by looking it right in the face. Limberleg has a collection of clockwork figures that work without being wound up and never seem to run down. When Natalie begins to have inexplicable visions of the malevolent forces facing Arcane, MO, she isn’t convinced that she is equipped to fight the evil at hand. Soon almost everyone is taken in by Limberleg’s promises of miraculous healing and snake-oil cures, and it becomes clear to Natalie that she is their only hope of survival. Enhanced by full-page drawings, this intricate story, set in the early 20th century, unfolds with the almost audible click of puzzle pieces coming together.”

I love this protagonist for so many reasons:

 Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the Shins1. Natalie isn’t afraid to skin up her knees.

Natalie Minks must conquer her Chesterlane which is no ordinary bicycle. She eats dirt and gets bruised many times in the novel, but never gives up. I totally admire this.

As a kid my grandfather used to insist that I wear knee pads during almost all of my outdoor pursuits. He’d say, “You gonna skin up yours knees and get dark marks.” Mind you he was a biracial man from Mississippi who had his own hiccups about skin tone and color and lord forbid his yellowy granddaughter had dark knees. I skinned them up anyways but was given massive tubs of cocoa butter to correct my wrongs.

2. Natalie noses around in adult business.

Natalie Minks sticks her nose into the inner workings of Dr. Limberleg’s Technological Medicine show and ends up saving her town. If it weren’t for her suspicions and dogged determination to investigate the hucksters, everyone would’ve been toast.

Constant phrases I heard growing up were “Mind your business!”, “Keep your nose out of grown folks affairs!”, “Stay outta grown folks conversations!”. So I admire Natalie’s tenacity and as a kid I just loved listening in on adult conversations.

 Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the ShinsAnother favorite girl protagonist of mine is Harriet from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. When I was given this book as a kid, I completely fell in love with it. Here is a summary from Amazon.com for those who weren’t blessed enough to read it as a child: “The fascinating story is about an intensely curious and intelligent girl, who literally spies on people and writes about them in her secret notebook, trying to make sense of life’s absurdities. When her classmates find her notebook and read her painfully blunt comments about them, Harriet finds herself a lonely outcast. Fitzhugh’s writing is astonishingly vivid, real and engaging, and Harriet, by no means a typical, loveable heroine, is one of literature’s most unforgettable characters.”

I love little Harriet for the following reasons:

1. Harriet is mean and snarky.

Harriet has little mean thoughts and observations that she writes in her notebook. She writes down these things and is able to put them somewhere. Of course, this eventually lands her in hot water. But nonetheless, I just loved her insights, feelings, and commentary.

I was a bit of a snarky child like Harriet. Or rather, I had little mean thoughts and observations (like most people) and needed a place to store them and work out why I was having them. While reading Harriet the Spy, I kept a journal and wrote down my observations of the adult world and the other kids around me. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be having these thoughts, but reading about Harriet, I understood that many others had these thoughts as well.

harrietspy Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the Shins2. Harriet is a snoop.

Harriet gets in a dumbwaiter to go spy on Mrs. Plumber! Enough said! She was hardcore and willing to do break the law for her observations. She snoops around her neighborhood and attempts to gather the answers to the questions in her notebook.

Riding in a dumbwaiter is still on my bucket list.

Thirdly, I loved Tabitha Ruth “Turtle” Wexler of The Westing Game. As a middle grade reader, I was entralled with mysteries. From Clue mystery puzzles, the Where in the World is Carmen San Diego TV show, PBS’ show GhostWriter, to mystery novels, I couldn’t get enough of clues and solving crimes. So when my 5th grade teacher gave me Ellen Raskin’s novel, I read it over and over again. I adore Turtle Wexler because:

1. Turtle Wexler doesn’t mess around.

Everyone at Sunset Towers knows that if you pull Turtle Wexler’s braid you’re going to get kicked in the shins. I just loved this as a middle schooler. There were many people I wanted to kick, but I couldn’t just go around kicking people without serious trouble from mom, dad, and grandma. Turtle Wexler embodied my fantasy. She kicked boys as well as annoying old ladies (maybe not so nice!). She wasn’t afraid to take a dare and earn money from it. There is something endearing about a little girl who has a big ego and confidence. I wish this confidence remained as hormones and pre-pubscence set in.

 Middle Grade Mischief: Girls Who Ride Bicycles, Keep Secret Journals, and Kick Boys in the Shins2. Turtle Wexler is sharp.

She solves the Westing Game mystery. As many times as I wrote down the clues and tried to arrange them, I was never sharp enough to figure it out. I always overlooked something.

All three girls have the spark I look for in a great middle grade read. Girls who aren’t wrapped up in being ladies and ascribing to gender norms. Girls who just want to do their own thing: ride their bicycles, keep their journals, or wear witch costumes and solve mysteries. If I ever have a little girl, I hope she’d be just as spunky as these girls, even though as a parent, I’d be called into the principal’s office no doubt.

Photo Credit: Clarion Books, Puffin, Yearling, Rosie the Riveter Trust

Alyson Wants You To Meet Samantha

Posted by Alyson Gerber On March - 9 - 2011

G2336 main 2 Alyson Wants You To Meet SamanthaI was a Samantha. Not a Molly or Felicity or Addy. If you are an American girl who came of age in the last 25 years, you know what I’m talking about. Samantha and I had matching outfits, a burgundy Victorian dress with a high neck and long sleeves that we both wore to Thanksgiving. She had long brown hair and bangs, just like I did, and after reading “Meet Samantha,” the first in a six book series, I was hooked on this “badly behaved” girl from 1904.

Just as I was trying to find my own voice and discover what I believed, so was Samantha. She talked back to her Grandmary, spouted off her cousin Cornelia’s “new-fangled” ideas about women and their place in society, and defended her friend Nellie, because really they weren’t so different — both orphaned, young and curious. Although the classism these little Victorians faced in the series is much more significant than what I dealt with growing up in 1990s New England, Samantha saw things the way I did, like a kid who was just beginning to realize that circumstance isn’t fair. She saw beyond appearance and status and reminded me to look beneath the surface.

Of course, looking back on my American Girl Doll obsession, I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I picked Samantha and was willing to fall so far into this her world is that she allowed me to imagine I was just like her — pristine, refined and at the height of society — during a time in my childhood when I felt like an outcast.

Why Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is Caela’s Hero

Posted by Caela Carter On March - 8 - 2011

 Why Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is Caelas HeroI usually hate it when I’m asking to pick a favorite. Favorite color, movie, show, animal. I can never pick just one. However, although books are probably the beings I love most after humans, they are the one thing of which I have an absolute favorite: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Now there are about a hundred reasons that this book is my favorite of all time and an absolute treasure for everyone who is lucky enough to encounter it at the right stage in life, and just one of those reasons is the incredible, unique, and decidedly female protagonist, Scout Finch.

Here are some things I love about Scout:

1.            She’s tough.

No matter how hard she tries, she always finds herself cocking her fists at one boy or another in the school yard.

2.            She’s smart.

Even as a first grader, she recognizes that she’s smarter than her own teacher.

3.            She’s stubborn.

scout finch 92x150 Why Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is Caelas HeroAbsolutely nothing could keep Scout from watching her daddy defend Tom Robinson in the trial of the century.

4.            She’s loyal.

If anyone has anything less than nice to say about Atticus or Jem or Dill, they’ll hear from Scout.

5.            She’s compasionate.

Just ask Boo Radley.

The best thing about this book is that Scout is not all of these things BECAUSE she’s a girl or IN SPITE OF being a girl.  It’s just the way she is.

Truthfully, I loved reading this book, teaching this book, watching others read this book, but I kind of hate talking about this book. Like an actual person, it is just too complex to be dissected and discussed.  Similarly, Scout is not simply a brilliantly written female protagonist—she’s a real influence on my life.

Photo Credit: Yahoo, Harper, 50 Anv. Edition Cover

pixel Why Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is Caelas Hero
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