Books for Tomboys

I might finally have gotten over my aversion to wearing pink, but I was a real tomboy growing up.  We had three maple trees in our yard, and I probably climbed all of them.  My dad would take my brother and me for treks through the woods of our favorite local parks.  Any dress I owned was a hand-me-down - taking me for dress shopping probably would've been like sticking your hand into a tiger cage.

So I put together a short list of the books I always loved for the spunky, non-lady-like heroines they contained.  It was always nice to see myself in book form.  How many of these have you read?

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Long before Bella Swan of the Twilight Saga, this book's heroine Kate Sutton was awkward and trying not to trip while standing still (a feat I can't always master).  Kate is quickly summed up by her parents as being too smart and less desirable than her gorgeous simpleton sister.  In the end, Kate doesn't worry about her appearance first and saving the day second.  Even when told to run to safety, Kate stays, saving the life of the complicated man she might have feelings for and putting an end to the danger surrounding the castle she was banished to.  Her stubbornness and strength don't keep her from finding love - they're rewarded when the saved man chooses her over her sister.  This book gets an extra nod for its villain - a woman whose motives are only shadowy not cruel or unnecessary.  She leaves the book much as Kate does - on a path of her own choosing and with self-made dignity.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Although the book revolves around four siblings - Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy - it's the youngest, Lucy, who becomes the central heroine.  She's the first one to find a route through the back of the wardrobe into the magical land of Narnia, and she's promptly shot down by the others as telling one fantastic lie about her discovery.  As the others journey with her to Narnia, Lucy changes from being the outcast to the experienced guide, and the plot takes off from there.  The extra nod I'd give this book is that when the siblings are awarded special gifts, they're distributed without strict gender lines.  Susan gets a bow, arrows, and a signalling horn.  Lucy gets a vial of healing cordial, which I think is perfect for her character.  When doubt and greed and misfortune plague the siblings, Lucy is the glue holding them together, forgiving misdeeds, and looking ahead with enthusiasm.  If youth is wasted on the young, it isn't wasted on Lucy.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I received a copy of this book a few weeks ago in the bottom of a box of books my husband's coworker gave us.  (Boxes of random books make great any day presents, by the way.)  I hadn't read it in 20 years.  There's a reason this book is still assigned reading in schools - it's fantastic.  But the reason I love it is for, you guessed it, the plucky young heroine who kicks anyone in the shins who dares to pull her pigtails.  Stuck with the nickname Turtle and stuck in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, this girl isn't afraid of a haunted house or making her presence known.  The Westing game itself is a puzzle, a word and mind game with over a dozen people trying to figure it out to win a handsome prize of 2 million dollars.  Turtle might not walk away with the money, but her attention to detail coupled with her unending tenacity help her discover the biggest secret within the game - who set it up and who watched them compete.  It's a secret she never tells, showing mature restraint and reaping benefits the others will never know.

That's my list for now.  What books sum up your childhood?


  1. I don't remember many books from when I was young. I remember a ton of comic books I read, mostly X-Men with some Spider Man, Avengers, Ghost Rider, and Punisher thrown into the mix. I don't think I got into novels until I was in middle school, and then it was usually fantasy novels.

  2. The complete opposite of me. Except for Archie and Betty & Veronica, I didn't read a lot of comics/graphic novels until college. My middle school had a great library, and I always ended up reading stuff that expanded my mind in strange new directions. I wish I would've read more comics growing up, though.