A belated post, but every day can be International Women's Day can't it? I asked some of my writing colleagues for their recommendations of books written by Canadian authors that feature strong female characters. Here are some of their responses with links.
Sydell Waxman has two titles for young reachers: Changing the Pattern: The Story of Emily Stowe
(Illustrated by Linda Potts).
When Emily Stowe was born in 1831, every girl's future was limited to housework and child care. Women were not allowed into universities. They were not allowed to vote. Yet, Emily Stowe became Canada's first woman school principal, the first woman to practise medicine in Canada and a fighter for women's rights. How did she do it? Recommended for grades 4-8.
Believing in Books: The Story of Lillian Helena Smith
Every time you walk into the children's section of your local library, you should be thanking Lillian H. Smith. When Lillian was young, libraries had reading rooms with signs that often said, "No children or dogs allowed." Yet, Lillian H. Smith became Canada's first children's librarian and set up one the best collections of fine children's books in our country. How did she convince people that children's books matter? How did she choose "good" children's books? Recommended for grades 4-8.
The Trouble with Dilly by Rachna Gilmore (Grades 3 and up).
Dilly is strong, feisty, scatty and wildly imaginative, and plays hockey in a mixed team. Here's a review from CM.
And here's a picture book from Rachna: Catching Time.
When Sara's family can't find time to take her to the park, she sets about trying to catch some time for them all.
Marthe Jocelyn's Scribbling Women: True Tales from Astonishing Lives. Here is a blurb from Gillian O'Reilly, a fan of this title: "It's about women who were writers but not the ones we usually think about. It includes a woman transported to Australia in the early 1800s, a wonderful African explorer (you should see the photo of her in her bonnet), the 10th century Japanese courtier Sei Shonagon, a crusading American journalist who disguised herself as a mentally ill patient to expose New York treatments in the early 1900s, and Ada Blackjack, an Inuit woman who was part of a polar expedition. And more... It's a great read"
From Margriet Ruurs there is a novel, Me & Martha Black. Protagonist Melanie wanders through the history of the Yukon, with Martha Black - who became the second woman in Parliament - as her guide.
lian goodall's Singing Towards the Future: The Story of Portia White, tells the story of this Nova Scotian contralto.
(ages 11 and up)
From editors, Jocelyn Shipley and Deb Loughead, Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, a book of stories about teens and their moms and body images issues. This title made the ALA's 2010 Amelia Bloomer Project List.
For an emotionally strong character that must overcome incredible personal challenges, look to Cheryl Rainfield's Scars. "Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late...." Scars was a finalist for the Governor General Literary Award.
And here are two titles from Frieda Wishinsky:
Make It Fair!, which is #15 in the Canadian Flyer Adventure Series. This title features a great Canadian female: Nellie McClung. "Can Emily and Matt help suffragette Nellie McClung in the fight for women's rights? In Make It Fair! Emily and Matt land in Premier Rodmond Roblin's office in Winnipeg in 1914 and discover Nellie McClung confronting the Manitoban politician on the issue of women's rights.
Manya's Dream: A Story Of Marie Curie introduces the life of this two-time Nobel Prize winner (for physics and chemistry, no less) to younger readers. Here's a review.
And, finally*, I'd like to mention Elizabeth MacLeod, who has written a number of biographies about inspiring women, including Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Marie Curie. And, of course, she also wrote, The Kids Book of Great Canadian Women!
*Finally for now. Please send along any other titles you'd like to suggest.