There's been a bit of a discussion going on in the comments of my earlier post this week about the "what woman of classic literature are you?" quiz. I was fairly pleased with being pronounced Elizabeth Bennett. Other visitors were happy to be Jane Eyre, but not so happy to end up the doomed Beth from Little Women. Little Willow said "I really wish there were more results with girls that were from classics that weren't necessarily about sweeping romances." Wendy Betts continued along this line with the suggestion "someone needs to write a real *children's literature* version, with all the cool girls."
Writing a formal quiz is a bit beyond my time and technology constraints. But I thought that it would be nice to start a list of "cool girls from children's literature." I think that they should be smart and strong and independent, people who would make good role-models for girls today. Here's a start (in alphabetical order, rather than any order of relative coolness):
- Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
- Caddie Woodlawn (Carol Ryrie Brink)
- Hermione Granger from Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling)
- Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) (C. S. Lewis)
- Lyra from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy
- Matilda (Roald Dahl)
- Meg from A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
- Meggie from Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart books (she can read people into books)
- Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene)
- Pippi Longstocking (and do you know what a real-life hero Astrid Lindgren was/is in Sweden?)
- Sara Crewe from A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
- Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
I can think of other female characters, of course, but these struck me as ones who are strong and/or brave, and reasonably well-known. Only Hermione, Meggie and Lyra are from very recent books. I'm not sure if Meggie will stand the test of time, but I do like her. I left off Dorothy Gale, as being a bit too dependent, and Mary from The Secret Garden as being too difficult to like. I picked Meg Murray over Vicky Austin because Meg's problems were centered around saving the world, while Vicky's were more about her love life. But I did think that someone from Madeleine L'Engle's books should be included. And I know that Hermione is a bit of a sidekick, in that the books aren't about her the same way that they're about Harry. But she's so great! She simply insisted on being included.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Who am I missing? I'm sure that once I post this, I'll think of others, too. But I think that together we could come up with a top 20 coolest girls from children's literature list, if we set our minds to it.