RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,

Good After Bad (a.k.a. Gateway Through Time)

I checked out a pair of books from the library, Great Books for Boys and Great Books for Girls (1998/2002), target age range "2-14," because oh hey, this is right up my alley as far as wanting a resource for out of print 20th century juvenile lit.

But oh…my God…this woman has such a bug up her butt about STRONG FEMALE ROLE MODELS ONLY!!! Here are some of my favorite complaints of hers:

  • Didn’t include Anne of Green Gables because while she “initially seems to defy some of the restrictions put on girls,” she ultimately “consciously sacrifices her education to help her beloved relative.” (??? feels like abandoning Marilla at that point would be Worse, actually, but okay)

  • Didn’t include Madeline because the girls cry too much. However, Madeline’s Rescue is A-OK because there is a courageous dog who is a FEMALE dog!!

  • (it will emerge that Kathleen Odean has a serious complex about there not being enough female animal characters compared to male)

  • Includes Peet’s Encore for Eleanor but closes with the jab, “one of the few books about a female by this popular author.” (yes hello this girl child had literally 0 problems with the ~gender imbalance~ of his entirely animal characters, and if that fact signals a problem to you, then I guess I'm good with passing that "problem" on to my hypothetical children)

  • Grudgingly includes My Father’s Dragon (1948 Newbery Honor Book) but makes sure to complain, “Unfortunately, except for the cat, females have weak roles.”

  • Similar complaints lobbed at Winnie the Pooh for only having one female character, who is too motherly. Serious suggestion made that you can rectify this by changing the gender of some characters when reading out loud. (Totally not disorienting if and when your child later reads the book on their own!)

  • “As I read through hundreds of books about strong girls and women I regretted that I had so few of them available to me in the late fifties and sixties” listen I will personally fight you with my large collection of high quality books featuring girls published before 1970. Why don’t you go read about Connie McGuire in Golden Sovereign and calm down.

HOWEVER, she does actually make a number of good suggestions, and since I could not bring myself to read these books cover to cover (I tried, but there are just such long swaths of nonfiction, fairytales, sports & fantasy stories that are hella boring), I can't review them on Goodreads and thus would like to use this space to talk about both the books of which I approve, and the new-to-me titles that have piqued my curiosity.

I'm mixing in titles from both books in the same list, because there is some overlap and because I don't feel like writing any more headers. Odean's books are divided by categories and subcategories, few of which I have preserved beyond general age range, so the order is kinda haphazard, but let's go with it! And I divided the boys' book and girls' book selections by gender-stereotyped color because I think that would make her mad.

In cases of titles that cross both books, they're usually listed under the boys' section because that edition was older, so I read it first. And also because my unfortunate social conditioning has led me to think that boys lead and girls follow, probably, to paraphrase one of her general complaints.

Titles I Remember Fondly
Picture Books

  • Miss Nelson Is Missing

  • Corduroy (the beloved department store teddy bear! I had an actual Corduroy teddy bear as well)

  • Owl Moon (we were read this in one of our Media Center classes!)

  • Nonfiction: To the Top of the World: Adventures With Arctic Wolves (took me a minute to recognize this, but oh man, me & my wolf phase...)

  • any French-girl Madeline book

  • The Magic School Bus series

  • If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo

  • George and Martha (the cartoonish hippos!)

  • There's Something in my Attic - Mercer Mayer (OMG! I totally forgot about this book until I looked it up. Lassoing a monster! a shy one who just wants toys to play with)

  • Mirette on the High Wire (a book I did not appreciate enough as a kid, but am now grateful to Mom for buying)

  • Encore for Eleanor

  • Nonfiction: My Mom's a Vet (I truly did not expect to see anything I recognized in nonfiction, but OH SNAP how VIVIDLY I remembered, from the title alone, how obsessively I checked this book out of the library and pored over its pictures. I knew exactly what the cover looked like even before I looked it up)

Children's Chapter Books

(mind that these range widely from the little 50-100 pagers, to some that tap-dance on the line between middle grade and YA and have occasionally been shifted from where the author categorized them to where I think that they fit better. I tried to draw a dividing line between the ones under and over 120 pages, based mainly on whether I'd consider the book long enough to put on my reading list today or not, but may have missed a few)

  • The Cam Jansen mystery series (MEMORY TRIGGER! I had forgotten until I saw it, this series of easy-reader mysteries about a girl who pretends to take a photo and says, "Click," when she wants to remember a scene in perfect detail. It was the first time I'd ever heard of a photographic memory AND the first time I learned what red hair was -- because I got Big Mad and complained to my mom about why they would say she has "red" hair when it was CLEARLY ORANGE on the cover.)

  • Freckle Juice

  • A Boy and his Bear - Harriet Graham (where I learned about bear baiting)

  • My Father's Dragon

  • The Magic Treehouse series

  • The Whipping Boy (man, I'm still mad about the injustice of this concept)

  • Every Living Thing - Cynthia Rylant (wow I did NOT expect to see this slim and forgotten little volume get a shout-out)

  • The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever (our teacher read this & its sequel aloud in 4th or 5th grade -- it was a mixed-grade classroom and I had the same teacher for both years so I'm not sure which one -- and it's AMAZING)

  • Stone Fox (I WANT MY MEMORY OF THIS TAKEN AWAY. Along with my memory of the movie based on it. It's good but god, the sad)

  • Owls in the Family - Farley Mowat

  • My Teacher is an Alien

  • Bunnicula (the only good vampire ever)

  • The Encyclopedia Brown series

  • Beware the Mare series (OH GOSH I was so little when I read these. 7-9, almost definitely. I loved them so much!! A Blue for Beware, etc!)

  • Sable - Karen Hesse (puppy dog! I only barely remember this but I know I read it)

  • Sarah, Plain and Tall (even though actually I thought it was kinda boring oops)

  • The American Girl series

  • Midnight Rider - Ruepp (and a whooole bunch more of her short little pony books)

  • Nonfiction: I Am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks w/ James Haskins


  • Jim Ugly

  • Maniac Magee

  • Tuck Everlasting

  • James and the Giant Peach

  • ANTI-REC: The Goats by Brock Cole (GROSS DESCRIPTION OF GIRL'S NAKED BODY, no thanx. 12-year-old me was disgusted and still cannot over the memory of this kid observing the naked girl's breasts/pubic hair, and I didn't even know it was famous/highly awarded then. why won't it die and fall out of print)

  • The Ramona books - Beverly Cleary

  • Dear Mr. Henshaw

  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle

  • Julie of the Wolves

  • The Talking Earth

  • Shiloh

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins

  • The Great American Elephant Chase

  • The Captive - Joyce Hansen (I think I have read this?? Publication date matches my childhood and the name Kofi sounds familiar, but I am fuzzy on concrete memories)

  • Number the Stars

  • ANTI-REC: The View from Saturday (BORING SLOG)

  • Bearstone (and soooo many other titles by Will Hobbs, whom I keep mistakenly thinking is Walter Dean Myers. We read this book for class in 6th grade and for like, the entire rest of middle school I was OBSESSED with Hobbs' books...but after 8th grade, I never read another one again)

  • Hatchet - Gary Paulsen (a classroom read in grade...ugh, 4 or 5 I think? and one of the very best. obsessed w/ his work too)

  • The House of Dies Drear (grade 3 classroom read baby!)

  • Nonfiction: Bill Peet's autobiography

  • Baby-sitting is a Dangerous Job (Iiiiii LOVE IT!)

  • The Trouble With Tuck (guide dogs 4 blind dogs!)

  • The Birchbark House

  • Letters from Rifka (A CLASSIQUE)

  • Our Only May Amelia

  • The Orphan Train series - Joan Lowry Nixon (book 1 was assigned in 6th grade. Instant obsession. Why aren't they more popular still)

  • Adaline Falling Star

  • Bound for Oregon

  • Pippi Longstocking

  • Protector of the Small quartet - Tamora Pierce

  • Charlotte's Web

  • Bad Girls - Cynthia Voigt

  • The Mozart Season - Virginia Euwer Wolff (it's been excerpted on standardized tests, too)

  • Quest For a Maid

  • Lyddie - Katherine Paterson

  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond

  • The Switching Well

Teen Reads

  • Z for Zachariah

  • My Side of the Mountain

  • California Blue - David Klass (I think I read this? I vividly remember the cover from the library anyway)

  • Flour Babies (long before I'd otherwise heard of Home Ec classes doing the 'pretend a Thing is a baby to see how much being a teen parent would suck' project, and FYI after reading this I was vaguely disappointed when I grew up and never had one of those projects)

  • Confess-o-Rama (really tho?? this fine but forgettable basic makes your list of Greats?)

  • Running out of Time - Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Wild Magic quartet - Tamora Pierce

  • Holding Up the Earth (a 2011 read!)

  • Shadow Horse - Alison Hart

  • The Westing Game

  • Goose Chase - Patricia Kindl

  • Ghost Horses (a.k.a. dinosaur bones) - Pamela Smith Hill (unsure if I've read both this one AND the one below, or only one, because this plot sounds more familiar, but in my head, I link it with the cover for the book below, which also has a girl on a paleontology dig)

  • A Bone From a Dry Sea

  • Tomorrow, When the War Began series

  • Rules of the Road - Joan Bauer (what up 2019 read!!)

  • Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind (I think?? I know it was at the library, at least. Unforgettable title.)

  • Steal Away - Jennifer Armstrong

  • His Majesty, Queen Hatsheput

  • Sarah Bishop

  • Ties That Bind, Ties That Break (unforgettable titles part II)

  • Girl in Blue - Ann Rinaldi

  • Eva - Peter Dickinson (1989?? i didn't realize it was so old. I keep thinking it's from 2001, but maybe that's when I read it)

  • Song of the Lioness quartet - Tamora Pierce

Titles I Want To Read
Picture Books

  • Matthew's Meadow

  • Tigress - Helen Cowcher

  • Mare on the HIll

  • My Buddy - Osofsky (helperdog for wheelchair boy!)

  • Cowboys - Glenn Rounds (how is there a Glenn Rounds book I don't know)

  • Patrick's Dinosaurs

  • Emma and the Night Dogs

  • Seneca - Karen Lee Baker (horsey!)

  • Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod

  • Just Us Women

  • Nonfiction: My Horse of the North - Bruce McMillan (Icelandic ponies!)

  • Nellie Bly's Monkey

  • Mrs. Mack - Patricia Polacco (more horses!)

  • The Carousel - Liz Rosenberg

Children's Books
(* = in the "<120 pages" category, and represent books I more wish I'd actually found as a kid instead)

  • Climb or Die - Edward Myers

  • Tom's Midnight Garden

  • Tracks in the Snow - Bledsoe*

  • Panther - Martin Booth*

  • Vet Volunteer series - Laurie Halse Anderson*

  • Don't Tell Anyone - Peg Kehret* (and a bunch more of hers, honestly. how was Cages the only one I read)

  • Will You, Won't You? - Jessie Haas (a popular author with Odean, it seems)

Teen Reads

  • A Solitary Blue - Cynthia Voigt (DID I read this? I read Homecoming & Dicey's Song, but maybe not beyond that)

  • A Begonia for Miss Applebaum

  • The Exiles trilogy - Hilary McKay

  • Rain Is Not My Indian Name

  • Stranded - Ben Mikaelsen

  • The Beetle and Me: A Love Story (a VW Beetle; calm down, self)

  • Carlota - Scott O'Dell (he was another favorite elementary school author of mine)

Tags: books, nostalgia

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