Sunday, July 13, 2014

Once Upon a Storybook Has a Home!

Have you ever had a secret so big that it hurt to hold it in?

For two weeks, I have known where Once Upon a Storybook will live but haven't been able to tell anyone.  Two weeks is a long time for someone who talks a lot, and, well, can we say has a little problem with impulse control.  God has been generous to give me grace these past two weeks.

Now, let me tell you how this has all worked out.

This was my Facebook post from June 26:  I got some "bad" news today, but I am NOT discouraged! My A location for Once Upon a Storybook is Enderle Center, 55 fwy and 17th St in Tustin. The property manager called me today, and we had a great talk! There is nothing available there and likely wont be for the next few months. BUT I am more persuaded than ever that this is where I want to be! The ONLY way this can work out is if God orchestrates it. If it works out, to God be the glory. If it doesn't, God has other plans, and to God be the glory. I wonder where Once Upon a Storybook is going to live . . .

This was a very odd day.  It is natural to be discouraged after a phone conversation where someone says, "I'm sorry, but we just don't have anything for you here, and I don't anticipate any openings."  But I wasn't.  Truly.  I felt energized and excited!  I told the property manager on the phone, "Well, I am going to pray that something opens up because your center is really the perfect location for my store."  She laughed and said, "Ok!  Good luck!"

Five days later, at 6:28 a.m., I got a text: "Guess what?  God may have answered ur prayer; call me asap."

That morning I met with the property manager at Enderle Center.  After a few pleasantries, she explained what had happened.  A boutique had moved a few units down to expand (because that's what people do at this center--they never leave; if they move, it's because they are expanding).  That left a spot open, which had originally received 6 bids.  This was a few months ago--I had actually gone in and spoken to the store manager about the property and she explained how it was snatched up so quickly.  The person who was chosen was a former shop owner from Enderle who had left years ago for personal reasons and wanted to reopen her store. 

This woman got some exciting but disappointing news at the end of June.  Her husband was being transferred to another part of the country.  She was disappointed that her dream of reopening her store was being thwarted, but she was also worried that the property manager would be in a difficult spot.  She said, "Don't worry!  I think God has already worked it out!"  That's when I got the text.

Until this woman had a chance to tell her family that she was going to be moving across the country, I was asked to keep this to myself.

Norm came by the center that night, and we looked at the property.  What can I tell you?  The unit I will be leasing is 1400 sqft, about 1000 of that is the bookfloor.  It is absolutely beautiful--crown molding, gorgeous cashwrap, perfect bookstore lighting already built in.  Did I mention this was previously a Brighton store???  So, you know, it oozes boutiquey class.  Upstairs, the craft and party room is already built.  And the windows of the room open up so you can call down to people below--that was something I had actually wanted!  Yes, I will have to modify the space somewhat, but I can't believe what I am starting with.

And the rent.  I can't believe how fair it is.  It is less than any other spot I had looked at in Tustin.  Thank you, God.

If you've never been to Enderle Center, let me give you a few details.  It is a high-end center with boutique and specialty shops, anchored by some great restaurants: Zov's (the original), El Torito, Zito's Bar & Grill, and The Crab Cooker.  There is TONS of parking to accommodate our events!!!  Also, Enderle does the best job in the county of promoting their center.  They have monthly classic car shows, summer concerts, and Dickens carolers who sing at their annual holiday open house and gala.  There is a plaque on the clock tower that states that when Mr. Enderle opened his center in the 1970s, he dedicated it to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Once Upon a Storybook is going to feel right at home at this beautiful Tustin center filled with independent business owners.  To God be the glory!

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Reading

Summer is here!  Oh, summer, you season of warmth and laziness, poolsideness and beachiness.  I love summer.  I live in Southern California, so I've grown up living in the heat, and although I would not consider myself a beach person, being outside on a sizzling summer day does have its appeal.  (Thank goodness, though, I do have air conditioning :-).)

For kids, summer is that release from responsibility.  No homework, no early mornings being rushed off to school, no books . . . WAIT!  No books??!

Kids desperately want to separate themselves from the routine and requirements of school.  And summer, with its relaxed mood, is perfect for reading.  So how do we combine the two strategically without making it more assigned work?

Every community has its fill of summer reading programs for kids.  Do a Google search to see what you can find in your area.  Public libraries are the best places to start!  Most library systems have
summer reading programs with rewards for numbers of books read or minutes spent reading.  Next year, Once Upon a Storybook with have Book Bingo!  As kids read books and mark off on a bingo grid, they will qualify for a big pizza party at the end of the summer.
In addition to summer reading programs, you could host a neighborhood book exchange.  Every kid brings a book or two, lays them out on a table, and selects another book from a friend.  You could host an ice cream party at the end of the summer so the kids could discuss their shared book experiences.
My parents took a couple of kidless vacations while I was growing up.  Mom would pack my suitcase for my trip to stay with Grandma, and as I unpacked, there would be a surprise!  A new book or two tucked away in the bottom of my suitcase.  I still remember reading Little Women one summer in my grandparent's guest bedroom.  (And I still wish someone would have told me that Jo was a GIRL!!)  For what special events can books be a special surprise for your kids this summer?
Reading Rules for Summer
May I suggest that there are none?  Kids have so many school assignments over which they have little choices.  Summer is a time for freedom of choice.  Your kid just wants to read comic books?  That's okay!  It's summer!  Your kid wants to reread all of the Magic Treehouse books she's already read 4 times.  That's okay!  It's summer!  Your teen wants to read romantic stories full of fluff and foolery.  That's okay!  It's summer!
Study after study has shown that kids who read during the summer tend to not have the same dip in comprehension that kids who don't summer read do.  However, the content of the reading has very little effect on the fall results.  What matters is the act of reading . . . reading for enjoyment . . . reading for entertainment.
And let's remember perhaps the most important tip of all: Kids mimic what is modeled?  So . . . What are YOU reading this summer?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Your Royal Highness

Fairest, Ella Enchanted, Princess Academy, The Seventh Blessing.  What do all of these books have in common?  They are all middle grade novels for girls that take place in royal settings, complete with medieval gowns, crowns, and castles.  Why is this genre so popular with authors and young readers?

I have often wondered why the Middle Ages has been such a popular setting for children’s literature.  Why not dozens of books about the American Westward Expansion movement?  Why not an island paradise?  Why not space?  Sure, there are books set in these places, but the overwhelming number of children’s titles that take place in castles really got me wondering.  Here’s what I think:

1)      These stories are often reworked fairy tales, most of which took place in medieval settings.

2)      Even though Renaissance and medieval history is real, it feels so fictional.  It is the antithesis of our digital age—a time when horses were used for transportation, books were the means of education(!), and jousts were entertainment.

3)      Readers are able to escape their own realities for something that is not part of their daily lives.

4)      The biggest reason: We are able to indulge in fantasy because the Middle Ages is associated with sorcerers, magicians, curses, and spells, even though these may not have been part of the historical background.  The ability to use magic allows authors the license to create their own worlds--along with new lands and new languages--while still using a framework with which we are familiar. 

I am currently reading The Seventh Blessing by new author Melissa Buell, a story in which blessings for a new princess go horribly wrong.  It captures the romantic element of Renaissance times—the gardens, the horses, the royalty, the gowns.  But it also has the elements of magic that make fairy tales so appealing: fairies whose faces are glittered, magical spells.  This book is reminding me of all of the previous princess novels I have read (my favorite being Fairest).  It's a coming-of-age story, perfect for 4th-6th  graders or beyond. (I'm hoping to open Once Upon a Storybook in time to have Melissa Buell do a book launch for her third book in this series!!)

The books I listed above are traditionally thought of as books for girls, mainly because they have princesses as the protagonists.  There are numerous novels for boys in this genre that are popular.  My favorite is the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, which has been around for almost 20 years.  Its distinction is that anthropomorphized animals are the characters.  (I did this as a read aloud when my boys were in early elementary school, and they were mesmerized!)  Current favorites of medieval series for boys (and girls who like adventure!) would include The Dark Is Rising, The Ranger’s Apprentice, the Warriors, the Arthurian Saga, and of course, Harry Potter. 

It appears history is in the present, when it comes to middle-grade fiction!
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Waiting--The 5-Part Preparation Plan


Since I am known as "the lady who is trying to open a bookstore," friends constantly ask me generic questions about my progress.  "How's the bookstore going?" "When are you opening?" "Have you found a location yet?"  Of course, people want to hear about progress.  Sometimes I feel like I don't have a lot to share because there aren't a lot of major changes . . . but there is so much going on behind the scenes!

If there is anything the process of opening a bookstore has taught me, it is how to wait actively.  Wanting to always make the most of my time, I desire to be productive, even in the waiting stages of getting this bookstore off the ground.  So . . . I have developed a 5-part preparation plan!  I bet these are universal steps that any potential business owner goes through . . . Perhaps there is a book in here somewhere.

Part 1

Everyone on my Facebook page, every friend, every family member, and many strangers know that what I am about right now is fundraising!  I'm trying to do this in a number of creative ways:

Running an Indiegogo campaign has been a lesson unto itself--fun, challenging, encouraging, and humbling.  My goal is to raise $20,000--15% of what I actually need to start Once Upon a Storybook.  The rest I will receive as an SBA loan . . . or maybe I'll get really fortunate to meet an independently wealthy person who would enjoy giving a low-interest loan to a passionate, eager businesswoman.  It could happen.

I've sent about 100 letters to friends, family, business aquaintances (friends of my husband's), and local business owners, as well as a couple of celebrities.  If I don't ask, they can't say no.  And who knows . . . it could happen.

I have been attempting to apply for a James Patterson grant.  James Patterson, the most prolific author of our time, is a great friend to independent booksellers.  He has pledged to give $1,000,000 this year to independent booksellers.  I have gone to the website and registered three times but haven't received any communication back (the site promises an email response, which I haven't received--sigh).  So this week, I also sent a packet to Mr. Patterson with my letter, projected profit & loss statement, and Indiegogo perks.  It may not get through . . . but it could happen.

In a wilder attempt at raising funds, I am applying to be on Wheel of Fortune.  I'm not particularly good at the Wheel, but, as my husband says, "sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart"--and . . . you guessed it . . . it could happen.  If Wheel of Fortune doesn't work out, I may get desperate enough to try The Price Is Right.  Hey, these shows are just giving money away!  It doesn't hurt to try, and I'll make some fun memories in the process!

I work as a freelance proofreader about 5 hrs a week, but I recently was offered a project that will pay an additional $500--that's going straight to my OUAS bank account!

MY GOAL: Raise $20,000 by June 1; have SBA loan approval by June 1.

Part 2

I am a professional children's book lover.  People come to me with their children's reading issues, and I need to be prepared.  I work with and will be working more with parents, teachers, learning specialists, grandparents, students, children, babies, librarians, and anyone else who has an interest in children's books or literacy.  My background has prepared me for this is so many unique ways, but I also want to have materials, content, to put in people's hands.  I want to develop workshops and seminars that will be meaningful and educational.

I am developing binders of material that I consider "content" for OUAS--lists of award winners, blogs from favorite authors, lists of storytime material, Pinterest boards full of literature-related crafts.  I have to admit, this is the fun stuff.  I'd rather research which books and activities to incorporate on Dr. Seuss's birthday than redo my financial statement.

Developing our OUAS calendar is also part of developing our content.  Since "there will be no dull days at Once Upon a Storybook," our calendar of events must be intentional.  I am researching holidays, special days, author/illustrator birthdays, and early childhood themes so I can find appropriate stories and activities to pair.  Ooh, this is sooo much fun!

MY GOAL: Develop activities for all major holidays; develop Pinterest boards for unique activities; write at least one blog post a month
Part 3

It can't be overstated: Location, location, location!  It's the life or death of a brick-and-mortar store.

I have commissioned a couple of marketing reports, and they confirmed what I believed to be true--that Tustin, being in Central Orange County, would be a great place for a children's bookstore.  Tustin epitomizes "community"--small town meets neighborhoods meets convenient freeway access. 

Originally, I hoped to be in the Plaza Lafayette Center on Irvine Blvd and Newport Ave. 
But recent revelations have shown my real estate broker and myself that it might not be a wise move.  Plus, as anyone who has been to that center knows, parking is a problem.

I have also been intentional about searching out options in Enderle Center on Prospect and 17th St.
Shopkeepers at Enderle don't leave very often.  One store owner said, "If a unit opens, usually the shop next door decides to expand." 

Old Towne Tustin is also an option.
But so far nothing has been available.

I'm keeping my eyes open, Tustin.  When you've got a cute, available 1400-sq-ft unit, I'm gonna snatch it up!

MY GOAL: To find a location that God provides at the perfect time when I have the finances.

Part 4

Although I have tons of passion and a great background to get a children's bookstore started, there is always plenty to learn, both about the children's book industry and about business in general.

When I first floated the idea of opening a bookstore to my husband (a brilliant businessman), he said, "How do we know we can operate a bookstore?  Neither of us has ever been in retail.  If you want to open a bookstore, you need to go get some retail experience."  BEST. ADVICE. EVER.  As a result, I went to Barnes & Noble for almost two years and learned about the bookselling industry, merchandising, event planning, and customer service.  It was the perfect pairing with my passion for stories!  I learned that--wow--I really am good at selling!  And I do have an expertise in children's lit that is valued.  I had to leave B&N, as raising money for a bookstore is a conflict of interest, but I loved my time there.

To educate myself about children's literature, I read books, blogs, and articles about current literature.  And there is always a lot of new stuff to keep up with. Today, I watched a webinar about using literature to enhance the Common Core State Standards.  Because I want to position myself as an expert, that's a lot of stuff to constantly be learning. 

Besides learning about what's new in literature, I study news of the bookselling industry.  By belonging to professional organizations, I receive lots of info about the indie booksellers movement.  Did you know that almost every industry on Earth has its own consultants?  The bookselling industry has Paz & Associates.  They do incredible workshops and training and are extremely well respected in the industry.  They have taught me almost everything I know about the bookselling business.

The last thing I educate myself on is business practices in general.  I have to admit, this is the hardest for me (but I am fortunate to have a great businessman in my own house!).  I've had to learn about banking, small business loans, technology for business, marketing, merchandising, and--gulp--accounting.  Yeah, I still have a lot to learn . . . especially about spreadsheets.

MY GOAL: Research Common Core; read 4 books a month; get and practice QuickBooks

Part 5

If location is the life blood of a business, network is the veins and arteries. 

My network is both business people and potential customers.  I have been meeting with some great business contacts--bankers, consultants, credit merchant specialists, marketing experts.  It's even more fun meeting people in the industry--book distributors, POS salespeople.  But my favorite is connecting with indie booksellers who have been doing it right!  I have friends all over the country. These are the experts, and I want to learn how they do everything they do.  And I have learned that booksellers are really generous with sharing their expertise.

But developing that customer base is just as important!  When Once Upon a Storybook opens, I don't want any local parents, grandparents, or teachers to be surprised!  Fortunately, social media is helpful in this.  I am learning to ask people to spread the word by sharing my posts.  Friends of friends and their friends is the beauty of Facebook--automatic networking. 

The bookselling industry does a great job of hosting events that feature authors and illustrators.  Making contact with them is crucial to planning great author in-store events.  Authors and illustrators are the rock stars of children's literature.  You should see me when I start to talk about Lois Ehlert or Andrew Clements or Tom Angelberger.  No kidding, meeting one of these is like a tween meeting Justin Beiber! 

MY GOAL: Meet with at least one bookseller a month, have a contact info for 100 teachers in OUSD and private schools around the Tustin area; meet 10 authors before opening

Well, this is it!  My 5-Part Preparation Plan that keeps me busy and gives me the direction I need to use my time wisely. 

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banned Books for All?

Well, it has been quite awhile since I posted on my blog.  Perhaps I haven't had much to say . . .   Today I would like to suggest something a little radical--at least for an independent bookseller--  Something I feel all around me but don't hear expressed much.

In honor of Banned Book Week, I want to ask a question: Is it ever okay to censor or ban books?  The whole idea with recognizing a week like this is to acknowledge the freedom we have in our country to read anything by anyone whenever we want to.  We Americans DO love our freedom.  I am very thankful that men and women have sacrificed for the many freedoms we often take for granted, including the right to have access to information.  It is only too easy to find a list of countries that do not have this right.

But freedom can get in the way of common sense sometimes, I think.  Do you agree?  
"Banning" is a loaded word. defines it as "to prohibit, forbid, or bar; the act of prohibiting by law."  Sounds very final, doesn't it?   No wonder authors, publishers, librarians, journalists, parents, teachers, and American readers of all ages reject this concept!  

Books that have been banned or frequently challenged in U.S. schools and libraries have been so for a variety of reasons.  The largest number of the 5,099 formal challenges in 2013 were due to sexually explicit material that was not appropriate for the age-group to whom it was being offered. (credit: American Library Assoc.)  Other common reasons are "offensive language," "deemed unsuitable to an age group," "violence, " "occult" themes.  Many challenged books are challenged on multiple grounds.  

Before you think, "Well, I wouldn't want to read a book that is sexually explict, full of violence and offensive language!", let me share a few of the most commonly challenged books for the last couple of years: Hunger Games (Collins), Captain Underpants (Pilkey), The Kite Runner (Hosseini), and The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald).  These are all best sellers on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  But someone finds them inappropriate for a particular age group.  I have looked over banned book lists to see how many of them (not if, but how many) I have read.  (Confession: I have even read banned books BECAUSE they were banned . . .  and felt rather radical for doing so :-) .)

I think here is where I want to make the point that those who want to "prohibit, forbid, or bar" certain books are not usually against literature, reading, or freedom.  But they are for protecting children.   

E.L. James was asserting her right to freedom of speech when she wrote Fifty Shades of Gray.  And everyone who reads it asserts his or her right to freedom of expression when reading it.  But, certainly, we can all agree that it is not appropriate for all ages groups.  Not everyone should have equal access to all reading material.  We put Playboy magazine on the top shelf for a reason.
We might disagree about standards--potty humor to some is as unacceptable as explicit sexuality is to others.  I would even go so far as to say, I would encourage anyone to write anything, thankful for the freedom we have to express ourselves.  But I wouldn't ask that a children's library carry any and everything.  Besides the argument for limited space and providing essential educational reading materials, libraries and schools have a responsibility to help nurture the children to whom they cater.
And it is parents that have that right before any school, library, or institution. Not all books are for everyone.  And parents are the ones who get to decide what is best for their children.  If you don't want your 8-year-old to read Captain Underpants, you get to make that decision.  If you don't want your 12-year-old to read Looking for Alaska (Green), you get to make that decision.  If you don't want your 16-year-old to read Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky), you get to make that decision (but good luck with that . . .).  If not parents, who?  

I wouldn't choose to read every book.  But I support those parents who feel their school libraries shouldn't house books that are offensive to them.  Exposure to literature is vitally important, but it does not supercede parental responsibility.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on censorship, banning, and protection.
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Best Books for Teens . . . And All of Us!

I love NPR (National Public Radio).  It's how I get 90% of my news.  NPR is also known for its well developed lists.  Today they came out with NPR's Top 100 Books for Teens, and, boy, did they get it right! 

Although there is the requisite Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight series, most of this list's books are strongly character-driven.  Number 14 on the list is my recently mentioned Anne of Green Gables--a strong female character that every girl should know.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, ranked #25, develves into the thought process of an autistic teenager. If I Stay, #75, focuses on a girl who has awoken from a coma and, with no memory of her past, must reconstruct her life. 
Many of the plot-driven books are exciting action stories that I have loved: The Giver (#12), The House of the Scorpion (#93), To Kill a Mockingbird (#3).

Every genre is covered.  Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and Paolini's Inheritance series showcase fantasy literature.  But science fiction fantasy, realistic fiction, and even historical fiction are well represented, as well.
My favorite thing about this list is that it is not just this year's favorites.  Some of the foundational works that have motivated teens for decades are listed.  A Separate Peace, The Outsiders, Go Ask Alice, and, on every junior higher's required reading list, Call of the Wild are listed alongside the newest teen literature.

As I read through the list and saw many books I have read, I was excited to see many books that are on my to-read list. It's nice to know I have some good reads to look forward to!  With five titles listed in the top 100, John Green is certainly the teen author to watch!  

The best thing about this list is that it proves that teen literature is not just for teens!  Some of the best books of all time and some of the best of current literature is in the teen market. Don't let a "teen" label keep you from the great characters and stories in literature!  
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Strong Female Characters for Girls to Know and Love

I've been discussing boys in literature and books that are good for boys for the past couple of weeks.  I thought it would be appropriate to focus on girls in literature--the kinds of girls we would all like our daughters to be.  As I researched and remembered stories with memorable girl characters, it took me back to my childhood, when books began to be powerful to me.  Because books are like good friends, I know I absorbed some of the character qualities of these powerful female characters.

Making lists is always risky.  Certainly, I will have left out many favorites.  And I hope to hear from many of you on who your favorite female characters are.  The list that was supposed to be 5 I had to stretch to 6.  To help me narrow the list, I put some parameters on myself:
1. The characters had to be from literature intended for children/teens.  That removed the powerful Jo from Little Women and Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
2. They had to be fictional characters.  This meant I had to take out Laura from the Little House series (sorry, Lori!).
3. They had to have no distracting characteristics.  For me, this meant no characters who are nosy, disrespectful to parents, violent, or just make me feel "icky"  Unfortunately, Hermione from harry Potter fits into this category.  (I sure hope to hear from someone on that!)  
4. It's not about the genre or plot.  I focused on the characters themselves--their strengths, their passions.  I asked myself if I would want to be their friends.

So, here is my list of 6 strong female characters that every girl (and boy!) should read and become familiar with.  Interestingly, some of the characters were written with the character traits I admired, and some of them grew into the traits.  

6. Margaret (Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume)
Thank you, Aunt Judy, for introducing me to this wonderful character by giving me this book for Christmas many, many years ago!  I related to Margaret so much.  She loves her parents but is at the age where she doesn't quite know how to show it anymore and is trying to pull apart from them, to become her own young woman.  During her 6th grade year, she is asking questions about life, friends, her body, the future.  She desperately wants to know and understand God, and she seeks Him out--although she doesn't find Him where she thinks she will.  Moving to a new town, she is thrust into a new school and new friendships at this emotionally challenging time.  I love her intimacy with God.
Character Qualities: inquisitive, persistent, loyal friend
Quote that Expresses Margaret's Personality: "Are you there, God?  It's me, Margaret.  I just told my mother I want a bra.  Please help me grow, God.  You know where.  I want to be like everyone else."  (Okay, maybe this wouldn't be the best choice for a boy.)

5. Mrs. Frisby (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien)
This is my favorite cover for this book.  When I teach it, I ask students to predict who the character is on the front and what he/she is holding.  It's my favorite read-aloud of all time!

Genre: Science fiction/fantasy
The brave Mrs. Frisby has two major differences with most of my other chosen women: She is a  mother (thus, not a peer of most readers) and she is an anthropomorphic character--a mouse that acts like a person.  Mrs. Frisby embodies courage, as she must protect and act during a very dangerous time to ensure the safety of her sick son.  In one of the book's most thrilling episodes, she must drug a cat to provide safety for the rats to complete their important plan.  Except that she is a rat, Mrs. Frisby is a very normal mother.  She has never done anything eroic up to this point, which is what makes her bravery so real to readers.  Every girl should have a role model like this brave mama.
Character Qualities: courage, sacrifice
Quote that Expresses Mrs. Frisby's Personality: "As she hurried home, Mrs. Frisby considered just how much she should tell her children about all that had happened--and all that was going to happen.  She decided at that stage, at least, she would not tell them about their father's connection with the rats.  Also that she would not say she had volunteered to put the sleeping powder into Dragon's bowl.  That would worry them; she could tell them, perhaps, when it was safely done" (p 150).  

4. Esperanza (Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan)
Genre: Historical fiction
For all of her young life, Esperanza had been a rich and somewhat spoiled girl, living on her family's ranchero in Mexico, until her greedy uncle makes demands that she and her newly widowed mother cannot accept.  They secretly leave Mexico and become day laborers in California's Central Valley.  When her mother falls ill and is unable to work, Esperanza "rises" be a hard-working breadwinner for her family.  Readers see the unfairness of life through Esperanza's eyes, but they also learn of hope (esperanza, in Spanish).
Character Qualities: perseverance, hard work, loyalty, determination, hope
Quote that Expresses Esperanza's Personality: "As the sun rose, Esperanza began to feel as if she rose with it.  Floating again, like the day on the mountain, when she first arrived in the valley.  She closed her eyes, and this time she . . . glided above the earth, unafraid. . . .She had her family, a garden of roses, her faith, and the memories of those who had gone before her.  But now, she had even more than that, and it carried her up, as the wings of the phoenix.  She soared with the anticipation of dreams she never knew she could have, of learning English, of supporting her family, of someday buying a tiny house.  Miguel had been right about never giving up, and she had been right, too about rising about those who held them down" (p. 249-250).

3. Meg Murry (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle)
Genre: Science fiction/fantasy
As one of the most popular and well written science fiction fantasies of all time, A Wrinkle in Time explores time travel through the perspective of family relationships.  Meg, a wallflower, becomes a rescuer, using her faults as her strengths--stubbornness becomes tenacity, anger becomes hatred of evil.  Her very relateable character is an inspiration to real girls everywhere.
Character Qualities: tenacity, loyalty/love of family, determination
Quote that Expresses Meg's Personality: "Father said it was all right for me to be afraid.  He said to go ahead and be afraid.  And Mrs Who said--I don't understand what she said, but I think it was meant to make me not hate being only me, and me being the way I am.  And Mrs Whatsit said to remember that she loves me.  That's what I have to think about.  not about being  afraid.  Or not as smart as IT.  Mrs Whatsit loves me.  That's quite something to be loved by someone like Mrs Whatsit" (p. 176).

2. Charlotte (Charlotte's Web by E. B. White)
Genre: Animal fantasy
The world's wisest spider, Charlotte will forever be equated with friendship and sacrifice.  While living in Zuckermans' barn with a host of farm animals, Charlotte develops a friendship with the insecure pig, Wilbur, and eventually saves his life with her savviness.
Character Qualities: faithfulness, wisdom, encouragement
Quote that Expresses Charlotte's Personality: "Wilbur blushed.  'But I'm not that terrific, Charlotte.  I'm just average for a pig.'  'You're terrific as far as I'm concerned,' replied Charlotte sweetly, 'and that's what counts.  You're my best friend, and I think your'e sensational.  Now stop arguing and get some sleep,'" (p.91)

1. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery)
Genre: Historical fiction
The optimistic spirit of orphan Anne Shirley makes her one of the most hopeful and enduring characters of all time.  Seeing the good in everyone, dreaming of possibilities, and having undying loyalty to her "bosom friend" Diana Anne is a hero of every dramatic preteen.  This historical fiction story has no serious villains and no epic storyline.  Instead, the reader enjoys observing the growing up of a girl to a young woman on Victoria Island during a kinder, gentler time.
Character Qualities:optimism, loyalty, creativity
Quote that Expresses Anne's Personality: "Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about?  It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world.  It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it?  There'd be no scope for the imagination then, would there?" (p. 21)

I can't wait to hear your favorite females in literature!

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