Reel Girl’s KidLit Picks of the Week

It’s been three days of straight rain starting out Winter Break. These books are helping us get through:

Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys

I think this book just came out. In any case, I saw it for the first time a couple days ago, and I love it.


Imogen is the real life story of the great photographer, Imogen Cunningham. What I love most about this book is that it shows the challenge of being and artist and a mother and how that challenge was not only overcome but used to create art. Reading this book  made me think of a post I wrote some time ago: Why aren’t there more women artists? The theory I wrote about– and that this book shows– is that in order to create, if you’re a mom as well, you need to be healthy as possible. The tortured, romanticized Marlboro Man, separated from the rest of life, doesn’t apply. This book shows all that beautifully.

Reel Girl rates Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys ***HHH***

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

My daughters adore this story about a woman who goes off by herself in the woods to gather herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds.


When she starts back home, she is followed by a pair of shoes.  Not freaked out one bit by shoes without feet in them, the woman says: “Get out of my way you two big shoes! I’m not afraid of you!” A pair of pants is added, a shirt, and on and on, each with a different movement: the shoes go clomp, clomp; the pants go wiggle, wiggle, the shirt goes shake, shake. You get the idea.

So my confession here is that I have a hard time with repetition. It gets on my nerves. Goldilocks is an absolute nightmare for me. I  get so bored reading the same thing over and over, knowing more of the same is to come. But repetition is in so many stories for kids because they love it; it helps them learn, too. My three daughters get so excited when they know what’s coming next. They call out all the sounds with huge grins on their faces. I love the old lady, so this book works for us.

Reel Girl rates The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything ***HHH***

Zita, the Spacegirl

This graphic novel features one of the few female superheroes. Zita is very cool.


This epic describes Zita’s journey from earth to another world, all to rescue her friend, Joseph. This story features monsters, magicians, and all kinds of scary space creatures. My only issue is that most (all?) of the other characters in this story appear to be male. Unfortunately, that gender division– when the female gets to be the protagonist, she is surrounded by males–  is all too common in kids media. Still, I cannot wait to see the movie. I wish someone would make it.

Reel Girl rates Zita, the Spacegirl ***HH***

5 thoughts on “Reel Girl’s KidLit Picks of the Week

  1. Whenever I read my daughter the old fairy tales I swap all the pronouns unless the story already features a female protagonist (so ALWAYS!).

    I find she enjoys the stories a lot when they’re about the brave young princess who saves the prince or the three Lily goats gruff besting the troll.

  2. Hi Nan-Yi Wang,

    That is so disappointing! I have not read the books myself but I bought them for my daughter. She liked the first one very much and I’ll check I. With herr on the second. I guess it doesn’t surprise me, it’s another case of a female proteg surrounded by male characters, except for Muthr of course.


  3. Margot, have you heard about or read Tony Diterlizzi’s on-going Wondla trilogy? Here is the synopsis for the first book, “The Search for Wondla”: When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, “WondLa.”

    While the heroine is obviously Eva, and she shares a cross-gender friendship with Rovender Kitt, there are still so many elements that I dislike about the books. Examples:
    -Eva’s robot caretaker, Muthr, is female
    -The marauder, Besteel, the main antagonist in the first book, is male
    -And so is the villain Cadmus Pryde in the second book
    -Otto the behemoth is male
    -And so are all of Eva’s other alien friends in the second book.
    -The six council elders of Rovender Kitts alien tribe are all male except for one lone female.

    I have many other aspects that I want to complain about, since there’s no reason for most of the characters to be male. The series really started turning downhill since the introduction of New Attica, the human civilisation run by Cadmus Pryde. I really wanted to enjoy this series, but I just couldn’t. The books have everything that a great series needs: a compelling plot, vivid descriptions, well-developed characters, but the gender ratio is way too unbalanced. I wouldn’t recommend this series because of that, but you may want to check it out and evaluate it yourself. It just goes to show that female lead =/= an equal ratio of female and male characters.

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