On Twitter’s 10th birthday, @Equal_matter tweeted to ask, “Why don’t you publish more books with girl leads – not princesses, or girls who play second fiddle to a boy character?” I was surprised. Looking at @Equal_matter’s feed, Nosy Crow seemed to have been singled out for the question. But, if anything, I rather worry that our publishing rather favours girl central characters, particularly in books for older children.
Anyway, I asked @Equal_matter if they would like a list, and they said they would, so here is a list (without princesses though I have something to say about that too, a bit later) of books published so far by Nosy Crow with “girl leads”.
The Pip and Posy books by Axel Scheffler (these are very much an equal pair, but in The Super Scooter, The Bedtime Frog and The Scary Monster, the focus is on Posy more than on Pip, in that she is the character to whom the main thing in the story happens.)
Books for children aged 5 – 8, roughly in order of increasing age appeal by age (so the ones at the end are most likely to appeal to 8 year olds):
Books for older readers (9+) roughly in order of increasing appeal by age (so the ones at the end are most likely to appeal to 12/13 year olds):
@Equal_matters asked us to exclude princess books. I know many children who go through a phase when princesses and fairies are big draws, and if books about fairies and princesses are what gets children reading, then I am all for them. I also think that not all books about princesses need to have saccharine, passive princesses. On our own list, I’d draw attention to the following books with particularly strong “girl lead” princesses.
Finally, I wanted to mention our fairy tale apps. Within the constraints of the traditional stories (and we decided we wanted to follow the basic narrative of the traditional stories), we have gone out of our way to make the girl characters engaged, strong, opinionated and valued for things other than their beauty. Little Red Riding Hood is my favourite example: she’s brave and clever and defeats the wolf and saves her grandmother all by herself. In Cinderella, the prince falls in love with Cinderella because they get on well and she has a lovely smile, rather than because she looks great in a gown. And Goldilocks is pretty strong-headed. Even in Snow White, which is a tough story to tackle from this point of view, we had her painting walls as well as washing up when she’s cleaning up the dwarves’ house.
Lots of girl leads there!