Best of Children's 2010 - Fiction About Girls


View the Complete List of Best of Children's 2010 - Fiction About Girls


The Summer of ’68

by Jenny Brown on November 15, 2010 | Children's

In the summer of 1968, Louis Gaither decides that it’s time for his three girls to spend some time with the mother who walked out on them a half-dozen years ago. With Delphine in charge, the sisters fly from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Oakland, Calif., to be met by Cecile Johnson, a woman who’d rather they spend their days at a Black Panthers’ summer camp than at home getting to know their mother. Here, we talk with Rita Williams-Garcia about her book One Crazy Summer, a story that is "energetically told with writing that snaps off the page," according to its Kirkus starred review.

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History, Retold through ‘Gutsy Girls’

by Jessie Grearson on November 15, 2010 | Children's

At 49, Karen Cushman started writing about “gutsy girls figuring out who they are,” and she says she has no plans to stop until she’s at least 100. A winner of the Newbery Award for 1995’s The Midwife’s Apprentice, Cushman says that writing for this audience lets her entertain “the child in me who likes to imagine other people and other lives…I can sit in my chair with the cat on my lap and make things up.” Here the author talks about her seventh novel, Alchemy and Meggy Swann.

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Kirkus Q&A: Lauren Myracle

by Rebecca Cramer on November 15, 2010 | Children's

In Luv Ya Bunches (2009), Milla, Yasaman, Katie-Rose and Violet became not just BFFs, but FFFs—Flower Friends Forever. Now the girls are back in the second book of the Flower Power series, Violet in Bloom, and they are determined to use their flower power for good. But doing good is a lot tougher than they anticipated with all the distractions—cute boys, nefarious girls, squirmy hamsters—that pepper their fifth-grade existence. The book brilliantly contrasts the thrills of adolescence with the realities of life beyond the playground, like social activism and mental illness. Lauren Myracle delivers a charming read that will delight preteen (and even adult) readers.

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2010 Children's Best: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, by Maryrose Wood

by Gordon West on November 15, 2010 | Children's

Tea is best served with droll mystery. At least, that’s what’s bountifully dished out in Maryrose Wood’s unapologetically Anglophile series opener that follows a well-established age-old tale: girl becomes governess, governess is employed at sprawling estate for three certifiably wild children, governess unearths multiple mysteries on premises. “I don’t receive many—or to be precise, any—books for middle-grade readers that combine a riff on Jane Eyre and feral children,” says Donna Bray, VP and co-publisher of Balzer + Bray. “I was powerless to resist.” Wood admits “there’s no greater satisfaction as an author than to write something so close to my own admittedly quirky heart, and to discover that readers find it engaging as well.” The book is a bona fide buffet of everything delightfully British: creaky carriages, dusty antiques, tea cakes, silken gowns, fanciful parties and…children raised by wolves. Yes, wolves.

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2010 Children's Best: Departure Time, by Truus Matti

by Rebecca Cramer on November 15, 2010 | Children's

Curiosity inspired Truus Matti to write her debut novel, in which two stories—one fantastic, the other realistic—intertwine. Told in alternating chapters, the book begins with a third-person account of a girl named Mouse, who arrives at a dilapidated hotel run by a fox and a rat, unable to remember her past. “I wrote…the first scene in the book more or less by accident; it came out of nowhere, and I had no idea what it was about,” says Matti. “The girl made me want to know who she was and what she was doing…So I followed her to find out.” That girl led Matti to the novel’s second plot line, told in the first person by a girl who makes her father promise to come home for her 11th birthday. When he doesn’t, the girl writes him a scathing letter only to learn that he died while touring with his orchestra.

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2010 Children's Best: Zora and Me, by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

by Jenny Brown on November 15, 2010 | Children's
First-time authors Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon vividly imagine the childhood of Zora Neale Hurston. Fourth grader Carrie narrates the events of one pivotal summer with her best friend, Zora, when an encounter with the giant gator Ghost stirs up strange doings in their all-black community of Eatonville, Fla. When Carrie and Zora try to solve the mystery of a traveling “singing man” who turns up dead, they grow up quickly—as they gain exposure to a wider, more divided world outside their town’s borders. “Anthropology and storytelling went hand-in-hand for Zora Neale Hurston in a way that deepened her affection for humanity when it could just as easily have made her a misanthrope,” says executive editor Mary Lee Donovan.

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2010 Children's Best: Hereville, by Barry Deutsch

by Jenny Brown on November 15, 2010 | Children's
Eleven-year-old Mirka respects her family and its Jewish traditions. But she also dreams of fighting dragons—and obtaining a sword for her cause. Little does the heroine suspect that her observant stepmother, Fruma, is preparing Mirka in her own unexpectedly helpful way—coaching her in the merits of brain over brawn. “When [webcomics publisher] girlamatic.com called for girl-friendly comic ideas, I had already been thinking about how the traditional fairy tales are never about Jewish characters,” says Barry Deutsch. “Historically, Jews weren’t allowed to carry swords, making them unlikely dragon slayers. And of course, kids aren’t allowed to carry swords either. From there, it was a short step to a Jewish girl’s stubborn quest for a sword.”

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2010 Children's Best: The Memory Bank, by Carolyn Coman

by Andrea Hoag on November 15, 2010 | Children's

When Newbery Honor author Carolyn Coman (What Jamie Saw, 1995) first conceived of lovable Hope Scroggins with her collaborator, Rob Shepperson, both realized early on that the waif was a character sure to resonate with young readers. What child can’t relate to a girl whose parents are so abhorrent that they simply abandon her little sister? Hope’s response—sleeping as much as possible—brings her to the attention of the Dahl-esque World Wide Memory Bank. “From the moment we entered the Bank, we were goners,” they say. “Everything about it—the Dream Vault, the Memory Receptor, Sorters, Retrospectors—engaged us. Hope simply rose to the occasion: a champion dreamer, a terrific sister, a good sport under trying circumstances.”

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