Books are full of heros, aren’t they? I’ve been thinking a lot about female literary heroes recently. Wonderful girls who fight to save the world like Katniss, or fight for their right to be loved like Matilda. And writers can be heroes too.
Like my friend, Deirdre Sullivan, I also met Judy Blume on Sunday. She was speaking at an event in my local theatre in Dublin, the Pavilion, and I was whisked backstage before the event to show her a letter she’d written to me when I was a young children’s bookseller at Waterstone’s, way back in 1996.
We chatted about that previous visit and about having lunch together (she remembered the restaurant being very smokey and she was right, it was before the smoking ban and it was). I told her I was now a children’s writer and that she’d inspired me to write for young readers.
So hero number one in the book world for me is a real person: Judy Blume.
Hero number 2 is a book hero: Harriet from Harriet the Spy
Harriet M. Welsch loves to spy on her friends and her neighbours and keeps a special spy notebook with all her thoughts about them in it. But one of the girls at school gets her hands on Harriet’s notebook and reads it out to the whole class. Harriet soon realises that maybe writing strong, kind of harsh things about her best friends wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Harriet is smart, funny and, like me, stubborn. But she also knows when she’s wrong and manages to turn things around for herself using her wits. I just love her.
Hero number 3 is Petrova Fossil from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Her two sisters want to be dancers and actors, but all she’s interested in is engines, driving cars and flying planes. I first read this book when I was about ten or eleven and I loved the ballet scenes, as I took ballet classes for years. But I loved Petrova best of all as she isn’t afraid to be different and wants to do things that she’s told girls can’t do, but decides to try anyway. She is also honest and kind and a loyal sister.
I also love Nancy Drew, the girl detective; Hermione Grainger from Harry Potter; Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables; and Lucy from the Narnia books.
But hero number 4 has to be Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. Has there ever been a braver spider? She saves Wilbur, the little pig’s life and is thoughtful, wise and above all, kind.
Who are YOUR book heroes? I’d love to know.
Yours in writing,