March is Women’s History Month
It’s hard to believe it’s already March. With February being on the short side, March seems sneaks up on you somehow. (Though with the N’Easter that’s hit us on the East Coast, I’m not sure how you could miss it.) Aside from signaling the end of winter, and the beginning of spring (I can’t wait!), March is also Women’s History Month. It’s a time to reflect, study, and emulate the women who’ve made a difference in the course of history.
But you know there are lots of fictional women who’ve made a difference in our lives too. That’s why, at Good Comics for Kids, we’re going to highlight Women’s History Month with reviews that highlight comics (both fiction and nonfiction) that feature strong female characters.
(This list was compiled by Robin Brenner & Esther Keller.)
Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. Drawn & Quarterly. $19.95.
Aya is the central character, but not quite the main character in this book. Yet, she exudes strength as she tries to figure out her place in the world. Especially, as her father focuses his energy on having her marry.
Regifters by Mike Carey, Marc Hempel, and Sonny Liew. Minx Boox. $9.99
Dixie is tough, but vulnerable. Dedicated and real. To what length will a teenage girl go to gain her crush’s attention? Dixie goes pretty far. But despite the disappointment of it all, Dixie comes out on top… due to her own strength and genuineness.
Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. Minx Books. $9.99
Either you love this title or you hate. But the bottom line the Janes empower themselves. They make a point and they stand out. And the main Jane… is her own person. Refusing to blend in with the popular crowd, knowing it would ease her social life. Instead she makes the sincere and brave choice.
Amelia Rules! Volume 1: The Whole World’s Crazy by Jimmy Gownley. Renaissance Press. $11.99
A glimpse into the fun and poignant side of a little girl who’s just trying to muddle through after her parent’s divorce. Amelia has a wild imagination, good friends, and all the necessary tools to survive her childhood.
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shanon & Dean Hale. Art by Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury. $18.99
Tired of the damsel in distress featured in so many fairy tales? I’ve read plenty of modernized (feminist) versions of fairy tales, but Rapunzel’s revenge is the first I’ve seen in comics form. Rapunzel is smart, sassy and ready to save herself and her mother. Beware of her braid! She knows how to use it.
(Catch the Good Comics Review by Sabrina Fritz here.)
The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks. SLG Publishing. $12.95.
Despite a moment of supernatural puzzlement at the end, this title is all about girls, and the kind of girls I actually knew in school — outsiders, a bit too smart for their own good, and unwilling to conform. It’s not that being an outsider didn’t hurt — I think it always stings a bit — but that instead of sinking into oblivion, these girls decide to be themselves and ignore commentary from the queen bees. That’s pretty awesome to me.
Babymouse #1 Queen of the World & Babymouse #2 Our Hero by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm. Random House Book for Young Readers. $5.95.
Everyone loves Babymouse. She’s energetic, fun, sassy, smart and just the type of kid (I mean mouse) you’d want to be around. Who knows what the future holds for this fun-loving rodent.
Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography by Sabrina Jones and Paul Buhle. Hill & Wang. $18.95. (Nonfiction)
Whatever you may say about Duncan, she was a challenging, controversial figure, and an independent woman at a time when women were supposed to be seen, not heard.
Dignifying Science: Stories about Women Scientists by Jim Ottaviani. GT Labs. $16.95. (Nonfiction)
I love this title, partly because I learned a lot and partly because I’m always fascinated by female pioneers in any field.
Leave it to Chance by James Robinson Image Comics. $12.95 (Sadly, the first volume seems to be out of print, but volumes 2-3 are still in print)
Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures, by J. Torres Oni Press $8.95. (BIP lists this as out of Print)
These are both excellent adventure series, starring girls, for the older kid/tween crowd. They’re just so much fun, and both feature characters that seek out adventure and solve mysteries.
Girl Stories by Lauren Weinstein. Henry Holt & Co. $17.95.
This was one of my pick because of its true genuineness. Weinstein captures the essence of middle school and early high school. And while there are no brave feats, or daring exploits, any girl that survives adolescence deserves a gold medal.
Tales of the Slayer (Buffy the Vampire Series) by Joss Whedon. Dark Horse. $14.95.
When thinking about strong female comic book characters, Buffy came to mind. Because, she kick butt! But Robin helped me choose this Buffy title, because it’s, in her opinion, one of the better stand alone titles in the Buffy series.
No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure by Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson. Kids Can Press. $8.95. (Nonfiction)
This is a great short collection of introductions to some lesser known historical women — those who dressed as men for a variety of reasons. One of my personal favorites is James Miranda Barry, a doctor, who no one knew was a woman until he died, and who will be the subject of an upcoming movie (and was the subject of a great adult novel, The Doctor by Patricia Dtuncker.)
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About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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