It seems the time is ripe to remind girls how worthy and strong they are. These new books are about women who made history and fictional girls with impressive stories.
"100 Women Who Made History" by DK; DK Children; 128 pages; $16.99.
Many people don't know that March is Women's History Month. To celebrate, this big organized tome features accomplished women like Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joan of Arc and J.K. Rowling, most of whom are festooned with photographic faces and smaller, illustrated bodies. The fun factor of the bobblehead characters will draw in youngsters, while the scrapbook-like setup of each page spread is busy, fact-filled and creative enough to hook kids who may balk at history.
Equal space is dedicated to the smartest women of our history's, from brilliant chemist Rosalind Franklin to super-scholar Sofia Kovalevskaya and many, many suffragettes, freedom fighters, queens, athletes, pilots and warriors. With lots of photographs, zesty illustrations, quotes and "What came before" and "What came after" background information, this book grandly celebrates the women who explored, excelled and made their marks on history.
"A Kid's Guide to America's First Ladies" by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Anna DiVito; HarperCollins; 238 pages; $16.99.
Readers ages 8 to 12 should enjoy this lighter-hearted, fun but informative introduction to America's first ladies. Updated through 2016, this modern book distinguishes the women by time periods and classes and flows throughout history swimmingly. Krull, a prolific award-winning author of many children's books, pegs the women as much more than just hostesses — progressive thinkers, confidantes, role models, mothers, political advocates and supportive partners. Young readers don't often have access to much information about these hardworking, underappreciated women, and Krull makes sure to point out how demanding their jobs are and how they influenced the course of history with their unique values and ideas.
With several lively sketches and sidebars with extra information, this guide to makes sure to emphasize the advancement of women's rights and vividly bring these women to life.
"A Season of Daring Greatly" by Ellen Emerson White; Greenwillow Books; 420 pages; $17.99.
Young female athletes often wonder when more women will begin competing with men in sports like baseball, basketball and football. In this realistic, engaging novel, high-schooler Jill Cafferty, who's set to join the Pittsburgh Pirates Class A Short Season team after graduation, becomes the first woman ever drafted by a MLB team. Not everyone is happy about having her there, and some teammates make jokes and put her down. Jill wonders whether choosing pro baseball was the right decision. She struggles with the demands of being a role model but carries on with steely resolve, a funny inner voice told in third-person narrative and smart comebacks to blatant sexism.
Teens these days are often strong and self-assured, and Jill is a positive depiction of a character that advocates gender equality and carries on with humor, character and strength. Readers will ponder whether the real first female pro baseball player will be as appealing and strong.
"Big Trouble: A Friday Barnes Mystery" by R.A. Spratt; illustrated by Phil Gosier; Roaring Brook Press; 280 pages; $13.99.
As the third book in a smart, witty girl-power series for girls ages 7 to 12, "Big Trouble" is an adventurous mystery starring genius girl detective Friday Barnes. The first two books, "Girl Detective" and "Under Suspicion," painted the backdrop of this romp, but it's not necessary to have read them first. Friday lives in an exclusive boarding school. She sets out to crack the case of her missing mother, rein in a royal brat and unmask an elusive master thief called the Pimpernel.
With lots of references to math, science and literature, and tons of humor and energy, R.A. Spratt's mystery series is a blast both boys and girls will like. Illustrations by Phil Gosier are peppered throughout and add whimsical personality. Friday Barnes certainly is a smart and relatable female character that should rise to the top of book piles.
"Gabriela" by Teresa E. Harris; Scholastic Inc.; 196 pages; $9.99.
The newest book in the American Girl series features African-American Gabriela, who struggles with stuttering but loves expressing herself in the dance studio and with poetry. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby becomes determined to help save it. Can she harness the power of her words through poetry and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?
Aimed at ages 7 through 12, the American Girl novels are easy to read, positive, life-affirming tales. "Gabriela" is a timely story of a strong, artsy girl who overcomes a speaking issue and manages to be a community leader and rally as an advocate in her town.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.