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Middle Readers, Ages 7-14

Brave Girls and Strong Women

A special collection of books from small publishers for ages 7–14


Sarah’s Boat, by Douglas Alvord
Fiction, ages 8-12. Sarah’s grandfather teaches her how to sail a small boat, and Sarah decides to enter the town’s Labor Day race to see if she can beat Tommy Watkins, who made fun of her boat. Filled with diagrams and details about sailing. (Tilbury House Publishers) Hardcover $16.95, discounted to $11.87.

How Come the Best Clues are Always in the Garbage? by Linda Bailey
Fiction, ages 8-12. This is the first book in the Stevie (AKA Stephanie) Diamond detective series. Stevie has to figure out who stole money from the Garbage Busters, the environmental group her mother runs. After several mishaps and hair-raising adventures, she catches the thief —with some help from her 72-year-old woman neighbor. Stevie’s adventures continue in three other hilarious titles:

  • How Can I Be a Detective if I Have to Babysit?
  • Who’s Got Gertie? And How Can We Get Her Back?
  • How Can a Frozen Detective Stay Hot on the Trail?

(Albert Whitman Publishers) All books are paperback $4.50, discounted to $3.60.

Before the Lark, by Irene Bennett Brown
Fiction, ages 9-13. Jocey has a harelip, and in 1888 Kansas City she’s teased mercilessly. She flees to her father’s abandoned farm with her grandmother, and manages to raise crops and make a living for them both. When neighbors are kind to her she decides to seek out friends instead of hiding herself. Then she hears about an operation to fix her mouth, and she travels alone to the hospital and gets the operation. Jocey’s strong sense of self despite people’s reaction to her face is inspiring. (Blue Heron Publishing) Paperback $9.30.

Skitterbrain, by Irene Bennett Brown
Fiction, ages 9-13. In this gripping pioneer adventure, 11-year-old Larnie goes after her family’s milk cow, lost on the Kansas prairie in 1875. She is determined to find the cow so her baby brother can have milk, and to show she’s not the "skitterbrain" her father calls her. On her grueling trip Larnie has to steal her mule back from a boy thief, cope with wolves following her, and convince cowboys to find her cow among their herd. Combines courage and a heart-warming ending. (Blue Heron) This title is out of print - ask for it at your library.

Willow Whip, by Irene Bennett Brown
Fiction, ages 11-16. It is 1918, and Willow desperately wants her family to own their own Kansas farm instead of moving every year as tenant farmers. She works for hours planting and plowing, thinks up ways to earn more money (winning a horse race, selling walnuts), but gets so caught up in her single-minded pursuit that she cannot even sympathize when her brothers fall ill. When she succumbs to sunstroke and her friends help harvest the alfalfa for the downpayment on the farm, Willow realizes she must balance hard work with fun and compassion. An absorbing novel. (Blue Heron) Paperback $9.80.

History of Women series, Vivian Sheldon Epstein. Nonfiction, 9-14. This unique series includes:

  • History of Women Artists for Young People, which profiles 30 European and American women artists throughout the ages, and features full-color reproductions of some wonderful art. Hardcover $13.95.
  • History of Women in Science, which profiles 29 women scientists from Ancient Rome to the present. Paperback $7.95.
  • History of Women for Children, which chronicles women’s history from prehistoric times to the present. Hardcover $13.95.

All books are fun to read and very informative. (VSE Publishers)

Is There a Woman in the House—or Senate? by Bryna Fireside
Nonfiction, ages 9-14. Absorbing profiles of 10 women members of Congress, including the first woman in Congress, Jeanette Rankin; the first African-American woman, Shirley Chisolm; as well as Bella Abzug, Patricia Schroeder, and others. Chronicles their childhoods and career set-backs as well as successes. A must-read for future leaders! (Albert Whitman Publishers) Hardcover $14.95, discounted to $10.46.

Women of the Lights, by Candace Fleming
Nonfiction, ages 9-12. True-life stories of the daring and difficult lives of several women lighthouse keepers, many of whom rescued men from the ocean and kept the lighthouses shining despite storms and earthquakes. (Albert Whitman Publishers) Hardcover $13.95, discounted to $9.76.

Period. by Gardner-Loulan, Lopez and Quackenbush
Nonfiction, ages 8 and up. A down-to-earth discussion of menstruation and pelvic exams, including thoughts on body image and quotes from real women and girls on how they feel about menstruation. Removable parent guide helps parents talk to their daughters about these issues. Spanish edition available. (Volcano Press) Paperback $9.95 (includes parent guide).

A Friend Like Zilla, by Rachna Gilmore
Fiction, ages 8-13. Nobby meets a neat girl, Zilla, while on vacation. The weird thing is, Zilla is 17 —but she acts 10! Nobby’s parents explain that Zilla is slow for her age. Nobby admires Zilla’s knowledge of nature and cooking ability. Zilla admires Nobby’s skill at reading. Then Uncle Chad arrives and makes fun of Zilla’s disability. When Uncle Chad disappears in a storm, Zilla uses her knowledge of nature to find him, and he comes to understand the specialness of her intelligence. (Second Story Press) Paperback $5.95.

Across the Great River, by Irene Beltran Hernandez
Fiction, ages 10-14. When Kata’s father disappears into the Rio Grande during their flight to the U.S. and Mama falls ill on the other bank, Kata and her brother are taken in by Doña Anita, an herbalist who owns a small farm. Kata grows to love this brash, wise woman who saves her mother’s life. Kata is a perceptive narrator who matures from her harsh experience and Doña Anita is a wonderful role mode. (Arte Publico Press) Paperback $9.50, discounted to $7.96.

Book of Black Heroes, Vol. II: Great Women in the Struggle, by Igus, Ellis, Patrick and Wesley
Nonfiction, ages 10 and up. Black women throughout history are profiled in this easy-to-read book featuring famous and not-so-famous women freedom fighters, educators, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, policy makers and scientists. (Just Us Books) Paperback $10.95, discounted to $8.76.

The Lilith Summer, by Hadley Irwin
Fiction, ages 8-12. To earn money for a new bike, Ellen agrees to be a paid companion for an elderly neighbor, Lilith Adams, for the summer. Soon Ellen learns that Lilith is also getting paid to babysit her. After they each get over their anger at needing someone to watch over them, a special intergenerational friendship develops. Lilith’s dignity, gentleness and wisdom make her a wonderful role model, and a lesson in the humanity of older women. (Feminist Press) Paperback $8.95, discounted to $7.16.

Girls and Young Women Entrepreneurs, by Karnes, Bean, and Verdick
Nonfiction, ages 8-14. Girls and young women who have started a business tell their stories in this fun to read book. You’ll read about girls who make and sell jewelry and cheesecake; two sisters who perform magic shows; a girl who uses a home computer for graphic design; and more. Information on starting your own business included.(Free Spirit Publishing) Paperback $12.95, discounted to $10.36.

Girls and Young Women Inventing, by Karnes and Bean
Nonfiction, ages 8-14. True stories of girls and young women ages 6-17 who’ve invented everything from a blinking tooth-fairy light to computers that recognize speech. Includes information on how to invent something yourself. Inspiring! (Free Spirit Publishing) Paperback $12.95, discounted to $10.36.

Girls and Young Women Leading the Way, by Karnes and Bean
Nonfiction, ages 8-14. Real-life stories of girls and young women leaders such as the girl who organized a recycling project, and two girls who led a campaign against censorship of library materials. Includes tips on being a leader yourself. (Free Spirit Publishing) Paperback $11.95, discounted to $9.56.

I am Lavina Cumming, by Susan Lowell
Fiction, ages 8-12. After her mother dies, 10-year-old Lavina Cumming must travel alone from Arizona to California in 1905 to live with her aunt and be raised as a "young lady." Lavina misses her exuberant Arizona life of riding horses and killing rattlesnakes. Her survival skills come in handy during a San Francisco earthquake when she helps rescue her aunt and cousin. Despite her homesickness, Lavina decides to stay in California to study and eventually become a teacher. A very satisfying read. (Milkweed Editions) Paperback $6.95, discounted to $5.56.

Ezzie’s Emerald, by Kathleen McDonnell
Fiction, ages 7-10. Jake calls Ezzie a "hippo" because he thinks she’s fat. Ezzie tries to ignore him, but she gets so furious that she shouts at even her friends. When Ezzie saves a baby from an attack by a fierce dog, the newspapers and her classmates make a big deal for a few days —then it’s back to "hippo" again. But this time Ezzie’s ready, and she stands up to Jake and tells him never to call her names again. (Second Story Press) Paperback, $7.80.

Connie and Bonnie’s Birthday Blastoff, by Ray Nelson, Jr.
Nonfiction/Fiction, ages 6-10. Connie and Bonnie, "identical twins who look nothing alike," blast off to Pluto for a birthday party. While their silly story is told in equally silly rhymes, each page is covered with colorful photos and drawings of the solar system, as well as facts about planets, comets, asteroids, and galaxies. A good book to get girls (and boys) interested in astronomy. (Beyond Words Publishing) Hardcover $12.95.

Aruna’s Journeys, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Fiction, ages 8-12. Aruna’s parents are from India, and Aruna hates looking "different." Just when she finally finds a best friend at her new school, her parents take her to India for the whole summer. There she meets her feminist aunt Vandana who is on a hunger strike to avoid an arranged marriage. Vandana’s example and words encourage Aruna to hold on to her dreams and enjoy being different. Filled with details of urban life in India, and one of only a very few available novels about Indian-Americans. Winner of the 1998 Skipping Stones Magazine Award for multicultural books. (Smooth Stone Press) Paperback $6.95, discounted to $5.56.

Ela Bhatt: Uniting Women in India, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Biography, ages 10-14. Ela Bhatt overcame her shyness and her stuttering to start a union for the poorest women in India. By really listening to the women and helping them implement their own ideas, Ela helped the women start a bank, worker cooperatives, and child care cooperatives. This inspiring book is part of the Women Changing the World series published by the Feminist Press. Other titles in the series include:

  • Rigoberta Menchu: Defending Human Rights in Guatemala by Michael Silverstone
  • Aung San Suu Kyi: Standing Up for Democracy in Burma by Bettina Ling
  • Mamphela Ramphele: Challenging Apartheid in South Africa by Judith Harlan
  • Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams: Making Peace in Northern Ireland by Sarah Buscher and Bettina Ling

(Feminist Press) All books are paperback $9.95, discounted to $8.95

The Moon Over Crete, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Fiction, ages 8-12. Eleven-year-old Lily travels back in time 3,500 years to ancient Crete, where women and men were equal. Lily has to figure out how to warn the Queen about an impending fatal attack by patriarchal warriors. A fast-paced adventure and one of the only children’s novels that deals with sexism head-on and helps kids imagine a world of equality. Girls LOVE this book! (Smooth Stone Press) Paperback $6.95, discounted to $5.56.

The Truth About Sacajawea, by Kenneth Thomasma
Nonfiction, ages 8-14. Sacajawea was the Native American woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the American west. She is featured on the new one-dollar coin. This book documents her life - from a teenaged mother to a world-famous guide and interpreter —using the actual diary entries by Lewis and Clark. (Grandview Publishing) Paperback $7.99, discounted to $6.36.

Behind the Bedroom Wall, by Laura E. Williams
Fiction, ages 9-14. Thirteen-year-old Korinna Rehme loves Hitler and what he’s doing for Germany. Then she finds out her parents are hiding a Jewish family behind her bedroom wall. Will Korinna turn her parents in —or save the Jewish family? Unusual perspective and thought- provoking situations. (Milkweed Editions) Paperback $6.95, discounted to $5.56.

New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreamswww.newmoon.org 
The Web site for the award-winning feminist magazine by girls, for girls 8-14. Profiles of women and girls, stories, comics, feedback from girls on sexism and other problems. Give a subscription to this magazine as a gift to a girl —or even to a boy or an adult! P.O. Box 3587, Duluth, MN 55803. (218) 728-5507.

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