Roxane’s List #2

In my last post, I wrote about the challenge of finding books for my god-daughter, Roxane, when she was younger. It’s not so hard now that she’s fifteen and about as sophisticated and cosmpolitan as a teenager can be. But when she was younger, it was a different story. The photo on the right is of Roxane on her twelth birthday reading some of the titles I sent her to add to her ‘list’, including Judith Clarke’s ‘Kalpana’s Dream’ and Elizabeth Honey’s ‘The Ballad of Cauldron Bay’.

During the course of that year, I put together the following list of recommended titles for Roxane. Every title on it fitted Roxane’s very specific request for books about real girls dealing with real life. None of the books contain any fantasy or science-fiction, with the exception of Judith Clarke’s ‘Kalpana’s Dream’ which has a dash of magical realism at the end of the book. For girls aged between 9 and 14 who crave books that fit a similar criteria to ‘Roxane’s List’, I think it’s worth exploring the work of every author on this list. They all write about strong, believeable girl heroines. The following titles are definitely free of any overtly ‘icky bits’.

Australian Novels featuring Australian Girls

Catherine Bateson – Rain May and Captain Daniel
Painted Love Letters
Errol Broome – The Judas Donkey
Mary Grant Bruce – A Little Bush Maid
Alyssa Brugman – Being Bindy
Judith Clarke – Kalapana’s Dream
Thurley Fowler – The green wind
Kerry Greenwood – The Long Walk
Libby Hathorn – Thunderwith
Elizabeth Honey – The Ballad of Cauldron Bay
Robin Klein – Hating Alison Ashley
– Penny Pollard’s Diaries
Alison Lester – The Snow Pony
John Marsden – So much to tell you
Martine Murray – The slightly true story of Cedar B. Hartley
Henry Handel Richardson – The Getting of Wisdom
Ruth Starke – Orphans of the queen
Ethel Turner – Seven little Australians
Judy and Punch

Scholastic’s ‘My story’ series:
A Banner Bold –– Nadia Wheatley
A tale of two families – Jenny Pausacker
A different sort of real – Kerry Greenwood

International authors

Canada
Deborah Ellis – Parvana
Parvana’s Journey
Looking for X
Sarah Wilson – Bat Summer
Karen Levine – Hannah’s Suitcase

America
Sandra Creech – The Wanderer
– Ruby Holler
– Heartbeat
Ann Martin – A corner of the universe
(yes, she is also the author of the Babysitter clubs books)
Cynthia Voigt – Dicey’s Song

England
Mary Hooper – At the sign of the sugared plum
Anne Fine – Google-eyes
– The Tulip Touch
Judith Kerr – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Jacqueline Wilson – The Tatooed Mother

China (Chinese-American authors)
Ji Li Jiang – Red Scarf Girl
Adeline Yen Mah – Chinese Cinderella

The above list is in no way comprehensive and in the last few years I’ve sent Roxane books that sit slightly outside her original criteria. Roxane has also grown up and gone on to read YA titles written by many of the above authors and, of course, crossed over into reading adult fiction as well. There are so many fantastic authors who write strong girl protagonist for teenage readers, such as Brigid Lowry and Maureen McCarthy, that Roxane is no longer short on reading material. But at the age of twelve, when it was tricky to find books that met every aspect of her ‘list’ the above titles were very important. All these authors provided Roxane with strong female protagonists who lived in this world and dealt with all the difficulties and joys that life dishes up to us, without necessarily having to confront some of life’s grittier (and ick-ier) problems.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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