In ‘Wildwood,’ once again, boy takes over for girl: Curtis usurps Prue’s quest

My seven year old daughter reported to me this morning that lost baby Mac of Wildwood was discovered by Curtis, not Prue. Oh, this made me mad!


Over the weekend, I blogged about Wildwood. I love the elaborate world-building in the book, the complex characters, and the writing, but both my daughter and I were disappointed that a book we thought was about a heroic girl, Prue, turns out to be about a heroic boy, Curtis. It’s Prue’s brother who is lost. Prue ventures into the wild to save him. It’s interesting because Curtis tags along after her, and at first, Prue tries to shake him off, but he won’t go away. Now I feel like Prue’s desire to get rid of Curtis is the manifestation (man-infestation, ha!) of the struggle of so many female characters who are forced to capitulate to the male characters, again and again.

If the gender roles of Wildwood weren’t part of a larger pattern, I’d have no problem with them. But as it stands, in kids media, strong female protagonists go missing. Curtis being the one to find missing baby Mac is such a dis and so intertwined into the story, I feel as pissed off about it as I was when Percy Jackson took over Clarisse’s quest in Sea of Monsters. I hate that my kids have to see this happen again and again.

I’m not done with the book yet and am holding out hope Prue will reclaim her role as the hero of this narrative, but its not looking good.

The kick-ass Governess of ‘Wildwood’ is a brilliant character

My seven year old daughter and I are reading Wildwood. I was psyched by the description on the back of the book, which is all about a girl, Prue, rescuing her kidnapped brother. Unfortunately, early on, Prue partners up on her mission with a boy, Curtis. The story then alternates between Prue’s POV and Curtis’s, and, as my daughter pointed out, the Curtis parts are much better. While Prue is stuck in a town of boring politicians who speak about issues that Prue (and my daughter) don’t understand, Curtis gallops on a horse through the wilderness with a mysterious woman who lives with coyotes, the Governess.

If you read Reel Girl, you know that I track images in children’s media of females shown riding creatures, many of which are magical. While males are seen in this situation all the time, and the magical creature itself is often male, females, if they are get to do this at all, are relegated to a secondary position, aptly termed “riding bitch.”

Here is a beautiful illustration of the Governess and Curtis.


So far, she kind of reminds me of the latest incarnation of Women Who Run With Wolves.

We are only about one third through the book, so I am hoping that

(1) Prue’s role gets more exciting

(2) The Governess continues to play an important role

(3) Prue is the one to rescue her brother

I’ll keep you posted.


3 kids reading at breakfast

Look what happened today at breakfast: 3 kids spontaneously pulled out books and started to read. I got to drink my coffee in peace! Moments like this are so rare, I took a photo, and I’m posting it, even though the picture is not that great.

Rose, age 3, is reading Giant Meatball. (She can’t read but doesn’t know that.)

Alice, age 6, is reading Green Eggs and Ham. She is just starting to really read and love it. Dr. Seuss’s rhyming word patterns are great for this stage, though his total lack of female characters drives me bats.

Lucy, age 9, is reading Wildwood. I am going to blog about this book; it’s great and stars a sister who courageously rescues her little brother.