Since 2002, the Amelia Bloomer Project has created an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18. We are part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.
In the midst growing political and social conservatism, courageous authors, illustrators, editors and publishers continue to create risk-taking and life-changing books about girls and women. Celebrating these accomplishments, the 2003 Amelia Bloomer Project of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association proudly announces the second annual Amelia Bloomer list.
This bibliography of inspiring feminist books for young readers from birth to age 18 memorializes the legacy of 19th-Century feminist activist Amelia Bloomer. From a lively alphabet book illustrating diversity of careers to the fascinating examination of the history and growth of global feminism, this collection demonstrates resilience in the face of societal strictures. Settings varied in both time and place, in both fiction and nonfiction, spotlight girls and women breaking the bonds forced on them by society, defying stereotypical expectations. A street urchin who masquerades as a boy in the English navy, a marine biologist who explores under the Antarctic ice, an African-American teen who just wants to play ball (and does!), a chicken who asserts her place in the pecking order: these are only a few of the empowering stories told on this list.
Within these pages, girls and women overcome the obstacles of the intersecting forces of race, gender and class. Readers discover feminists who actively shape their destinies, blazing paths for themselves and those who follow. The Amelia Bloomer Project enthusiastically endorses these rip-snorting good reads.
2003 Amelia Bloomer Project members are: Jennifer Baltes, Forest Hill Elementary School (MD); Peter Butts, East Holland Middle School (MI); Debbie Carton, Berkeley Public Library North Branch (CA); Jane Cothron, Lincoln County Library District (OR); Sarah Dentan, Berkeley Public Library West Branch (CA); R. Ellen Greenblatt, Auraria Library (CO); Caren Koh, Queens Borough Public Library (NY); Nel Ward, Editor, Women in Libraries (OR); and Ilene Cooper, Booklist, consultant.
Brett, Jan. Daisy Comes Home. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002. $16.95. unp. ISBN 0-399-23618-X. Grades K-3.
Daisy, one of Mei Mei’s six Happy Hens, goes from being pecked-on by the other hens to equality after her adventures down the Lei River.
Bridges, Shirlin Yin; illustrated by Sophe Blackall. Ruby’s Wish. Chronicle Books, 2002. $15.95. unp. ISBN 0-8118-3490-5. Grades PreS-3.
Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby, who lives in 19th Century China, wants to attend university, and persuades her grandfather to grant her wish.
Bunting, Eve; illustrated by Suzanne Bloom. Girls A to Z. Boyds Mills Press, 2002. $15.95. unp. ISBN 1-56397-147-X. Grades PreS-2.
Bright, imaginative illustrations depict preschool-age girls dreaming about careers from A to Z.
McClintock, Barbara. Dahlia. Farrar, 2002. $16.00. unp. ISBN 0-374-31678-3. Grades PreS-2.
What will Aunt Edme say when she finds out Charlotte and Dahlia, a delicate doll she gave Charlotte as a gift, have been playing in the mud and climbing trees?
Plourde, Lynne; illustrated by Thor Wickstrum. School Picture Day. Dutton, 2002. $16.99. unp. ISBN 0-525-46886-2. Grades K-3.
More interested in the mechanics of the bus gearshift and the school heating system than in dressing up for school picture day, Josephina Caroleena Wattasheena saves the day when the photographer’s camera stops working.
Shannon, Margaret. The Red Wolf. Houghton, 2002. $15.00. unp. 0-618-05544-4. Grades K-3
Locked up for safekeeping in a tall, stony tower, Princess Roselupin escapes by knitting herself a magical wolf suit and guarantees her freedom when she knits her father a pair of mousy-looking pajamas.
Willis, Jeanne; illustrated by Tony Ross. I Want to be a Cowgirl. Holt, 2002. $15.95. unp. 0-8050-6997-6. Grades PreS-2.
“I don’t want to be a girly girl” is the cry of a child who lives in a high-rise city apartment and dreams of doing “the kinds of things/A cowgirl likes to do.”
Brown, Don. Far Beyond the Garden Gate: Alexandra David-Neel’s Journey to Lhasa. Houghton Mifflin, 2002. $16.00. unp. ISBN 0-618-08364-2. Grades 3-6.
Braving ice, snow, an unknown culture and a new language, Alexandra David-Neel became the first European woman to reach the famed city of Lhasa in 1924.
Grimes, Nikki; illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman. Scholastic/Orchard, 2002. $16.95. 48 p. ISBN 439-35243-6. Grades 3-6.
In a variety of voices in poetic form, Bessie Coleman’s friends and family tell how she didn’t let poverty, racism and gender discrimination prevent her from realizing her dreams of flying.
Rockwell, Anne; illustrated by Cynthia von Buhler. They Called her Molly Pitcher. Knopf, 2002. $15.95. unp. 0-679-89187-0. Grades 1-3.
Molly Hayes, wife of one of George Washington’s generals, takes an active role during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778.
Ellsworth, Loretta. The Shrouding Woman. Henry Holt and Company, 2002. $16.95. 151p. 0-8050-6651-9. Grades 4-8.
After the death of her mother, Evie’s grief and rage initially make it difficult for her to accept the support and love of her Aunt Flo, a shrouding woman, who prepares the dead for burial and comforts the living in a time before this function was co-opted by men in the undertaking industry.
Frederick, Heather Vogel. The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed. Simon & Schuster, 2002. $16.00. 220p. ISBN 0-689-84851-X. Grades 4-8.
Suddenly finding herself alone on her father’s whaling ship with a mutinous crew in 1853, 13-year-old Patience uses her keen navigational skills to save her father and her brother.
Gray, Dianne E. Together Apart. Houghton Mifflin, 2002. $16.00. 193p. ISBN 0-618-18721-9. Grades 4-8.
Fourteen-year-old Hannah and her friend Isaac learn that even a small prairie town in the late 19th Century can be a center for women’s rights, when they go to work for the unconventional Eliza Moore.
Griffin, Adele. Hannah, Divided. Hyperion Books for Children, 2002, $15.99. 208 p. ISBN 0-7868-0879-9. Grades 5-7.
In rural Pennsylvania in 1934, Hannah’s gift for numbers is seen as a hindrance rather than a help, but preparing for a scholarship may be her chance, if she’s willing to take it.
Ibbotson, Eva; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Journey to the River Sea. Dutton, 2002. $17.99. 298 p. ISBN 0-525-46739-4. Grades 5-8.
The contrast between the lush tropical beauty of the Amazon rainforest and the Victorian strictures of life on a rubber plantation with the abusive Carter family shapes the lives of orphan Maia and her governess in this melodrama set in 1910 Brazil.
Rinaldi, Ann. Numbering All the Bones. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2002. $15.99. 170 p. 0-7868-0533-1. Grades 5-8.
In the shadow of Andersonville prison at the end of the Civil War, Eulinda, a 13-year-old former slave finds a mentor in Clara Barton.
Conlan, Kathy. Under the Ice. Kids Can Press, 2002. $16.95. 54p. ISBN 1-55337-001-5. Grades 3-7.
Follow marine scientist Kathy Conlan to Antarctica to research the effects of human habitation on a pristine environment.
Green, Michele Y. A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002. $15.99. 111 p. ISBN 0-8037-2661-9. Grades 4-7.
One of only three women to play professional league baseball, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson overcame sex discrimination and racism to become a winning pitcher for the Negro Leagues.
Keenan, Sheila. Scholastic Encyclopedia of Women in the United States. Scholastic, 2002. $18.95. 206p. ISBN 0-590-05124-5. Grades 5-12.
Women have always made history in the United States, but they haven’t always made it into the history books, as shown in this chronological compendium of the lives of 214 women from Berenice Abbott to Babe Didrickson Zaharias.
Macy, Sue. Bull’s-Eye: a Photobiography of Annie Oakley. National Geographic Society, 2001. $17.95. 64p. ISBN 0-7922-7008-8. Grades 3-6.
Sue Macy presents the compelling story of Annie Oakley, both the fact and the fiction, through fascinating text, extraordinary historical photographs, and quotes from Annie herself.
Thimmesh, Catherine; illustrated by Melissa Sweet. The Sky’s the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls. Houghton Mifflin, 2002. $16.00. 80 p. 0-618-07698-0. Grades 5-9.
Beatrix Potter was a naturalist, Donna Shirley created the Mars Rover, Maria de Sautuola discovered prehistoric paintings--these are just some of the stories in this tribute to the joys of discovery as experienced by girls and women.
Young Adult Books
Auch, Mary Jane. Ashes of Roses. Holt, 2002. $16.95. 249p. 0-8050-6686-1. Grades 6-9.
In 1911, 16-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan comes to New York City and faces hardship and disappointment when both parents are forced to return to Ireland
Dickinson, Peter. The Ropemaker. Delacorte Press, 2001. $15.95. 375 p. ISBN 0-385-72921-9. Grades 9-12.
As the magic protecting the Valley from the evil Empire beings to unravel, Tilja finds that she has the power to save her country because she has no magical abilities.
Goobie, Beth. Sticks and Stones. Orca Book Publishers, 2002. $7.95. 86 p. ISBN 1551432137 Grades 8-12.
Jujube Gelb is one of the many girls whose names appear on the walls of the boys’ bathroom at her high school, but she is the only one the fight back, at first.
LaFaye, A. The Strength of Saints. Simon & Schuster, 2002. $16.95. 183 p. ISBN 0-689-83200-1. Grades 5-9.
In 1936, 14-year-old Nissa Bergen of Harper, Louisiana’s “separate-but-equal” libraries, wants to do what’s right when her hometown’s growing racial tension hits close to home.
Meyer, L. A. Bloody Jack; Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy. Harcourt, 2002. $17.00. 278 p. ISBN 0-15-216731-5. Grades 6-10.
Thirteen-year-old Mary Faber, orphaned in 18th Century London, recasts herself as Jack and takes a position as a ship’s boy to escape the dangerous streets.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Daughter of Venice. Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2002. $16.95. 274p. ISBN 0-385-21780-3. Grades 6-10.
In the intricately detailed setting of 1592 Venice, 14-year-old Donata cannot explore the jeweled city until she escapes the bonds of her family by masquerading as a boy.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Simply Alice. Atheneum, 2002. $16.00. 222 p. ISBN 0-689-82635-4. Grades 7-10.
As a high school freshman, Alice adjusts to life without a boyfriend, supports a friend in an abusive relationship, exposes sexual harassment through the school newspaper, and finds her own path in the face of peer pressure.
Smith, Sherri L. Lucy the Giant. Delacorte, 2002. $15.95 217 p. ISBN: 0-385-72940-5. Grades 7-10.
Fifteen years old and over six feet tall, Lucy escapes her life in Sitka with an abusive alcoholic father and acquaintances who call her “Lucy the Giant” to pose as an adult and work as crewmember aboard a crabbing boat based in Kodiak, Alaska.
Bolden, Tonya, ed. 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women’s History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the ERA. Crown Publishers, 2002. $12.95. 240 p. ISBN 0-375-81122-2 (pbk). Grades 6-12.
Photographs, personal narrative, and poetry enliven this informative and accessible presentation of United States women’s history from the 1776 to the present.
Collier, Kristi. Jericho Walls. Henry Holt and Company, 2002. 224p. $16.95. ISBN 0-8050-6521-0. Grades 5-9.
South Carolina is a new world for 11-year-old tomboy Jo Clawson when her preacher father moves the family to a small town in 1957 and Jo’s only friend is an African-American boy.
Colman, Penny. Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II. Crown Publishers, 2002. $17.95 118 p. ISBN 0-517-80075-6. Grades 6-9.
Riveting text and rarely-seen photographs bring to life the stories about a few of the 127 women who managed to get "where the action was” and were expected to return to their homes when the war was over.
Freedman, Estelle B. No Turning Back: the History of Feminism and the Future of Women. Ballantine Books, 2002. $15.95. 446 p. ISBN 0-345-45053-1. Grades 9-12.
The social, personal and cultural changes brought on by women of various classes worldwide are detailed and analyzed in terms of feminism’s 200-year evolution in this narrative as vibrant as the women’s movement.
Handel, Sherry S. Blue Jean: What Young Women are Thinking, Saying, and Doing. Blue Jean Press, 2001. $14.95. 246p. ISBN 0-9706609-1-X. Grades 7-12.
Feminism is alive and well in these excerpts from BLUE JEAN MAGAZINE, an alternative to glamour and beauty magazines targeting teen girls, written by young women in their late teens and early twenties.
Litwin, Laura Baskes. Fannie Lou Hamer: Fighting for the Right to Vote. Enslow Publishers, 2002. $20.95 128 p. 0-7660-1772-9. Grades 6-9.
In the 1920’s, Fannie Lou Hamer took herself from the shackles of poverty in the Mississippi Delta to prominence in the Civil Rights Movement and changed the face of United States politics forever.
Wheaton, Elizabeth. MS.: the Story of Gloria Steinem. Morgan Reynolds, 2002. $20.95. 240 p. ISBN 1-883846-82-6 Grades 6-9.
Investigative journalist and spokesperson for the women’s movement, Gloria Steinem overcame her childhood with a schizophrenic mother and an absent father to become the most famous feminist activist of her generation.
Zoya, with John Follain and Rita Cristofari. Zoya’s Story: an Afghan Woman’s Struggle for Freedom. HarperCollins/ William Morrow, 2002. $24.95. 239 p. ISBN: 0-06-009782-5. Grades 9-12.
In this searing memoir, 23-year-old Zoya (one of several pseudonyms) describes the horrors she faced from her childhood in war-torn Afghanistan to her adolescence in Pakistan working as an exiled activist with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.