Theme Guide: Strong Girls and Women

Picture Books

Akilak's Adventure

Akilak’s Adventure
Written by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Inhabit Media, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77227-123-2
IL: Ages 2-8 RL: Grades 2-3

When Akilak must travel a great distance to another camp to gather food, she thinks she will never be able to make it. With a little help from her grandmother’s spirit, and her own imagination, Akilak manages to turn a long walk into an adventure. Her grandmother’s reassuring words help Akilak enjoy the journey that at first seemed so daunting.

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Cranky Ballerina

The Cranky Ballerina
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
Katherine Tegen Books, 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-235124-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3

Ada hates everything about ballet class, it’s not her thing! But then one Saturday, Ada pliés right out the door and smacks into someone who loves her moves! Kids who love ballet — and definitely those who don’t — will relish this clever, subversive tale about a kid who has to do what she doesn’t like in order to discover what she loves. This title is also available in French as Ada : la grincheuse en tutu.

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The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Annick Press, 1980
ISBN 978-0-92023-616-1
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 2-3

Tradition gets tweaked when an unglamorous princess outwits an arrogant dragon to rescue an equally arrogant prince in this charming, whimsically illustrated feminist fairy tale.

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Water Walker

The Water Walker
Written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson
Second Story Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77260-038-4
IL: Ages 6-9 RL: Grades 2-3

Nokimis — our grandmothers — walk to protect our water, and to protect all of us. This book tells the true story of the determined Ojibwe Grandmother Josephine Mandamin who walked around all of the Great Lakes to raise awareness for the protection of our most precious resource.

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Junior & Intermediate Fiction


The Breadwinner
Written by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books, 2015 ©2000
ISBN 978-1-55498-765-8
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Parvana, 11, lives in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. When her father is arrested, conditions grow desperate for her family. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

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Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy
Written by Gareth Wronski
Aladdin, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4814-7177-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

Holly Farb is not the Princess of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, alien pirate kidnappers believe she is, and so she finds herself on a pirate spaceship together with her teacher Mr. Mendez and irritating classmate, Chester. Now all she has to do is escape the pirates, find the missing princess and get back to Earth in time for her big test on Friday.

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Laura Monster Crusher

Laura Monster Crusher
Written by Wesley King
Puffin Canada, 2017
ISBN 978-0-670-07002-2
IL: Ages 10-12 RL: Grades 4-5

When Laura’s family moves to a fixer upper in a new town for grade eight, she expects more of the same: kids bullying her about her weight. What she doesn’t expect is making real friends for the first time or being given the most important job in the world: Monster Crusher. Her new role? To protect the world from the horrors beneath the Earth.

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Mary Anning's Curiosity

Mary Anning’s Curiosity
Written by Monica Kulling
Illustrations by Melissa Castrillon
Groundwood Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55498-898-3
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-5

In 1811, 12-year-old Mary, with her brother Joe, found what they believed to be the skeleton of a gigantic crocodile, the Great Croc of legends. Mary took almost a year to excavate what would later be termed the Ichthyosaurus. Now considered the world’s greatest fossilist, Mary Anning and her world are brought to life in this story about scientific discovery for young readers.

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Young Adult Fiction


The Farmerettes
Written by Gisela Tobien Sherman
Second Story Press, 2015
ISBN 978-1-927583-64-7
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Defying convention, a group of mismatched girls live and work on a farm during the summer of 1943: dutiful Helene; fun-loving Peggy; Isabel, whose fiancé is in Europe; rich Binxie and reliable Jean, whose family farm is taken over by the group of “farmerettes.” And then there is the mysterious “X,” who feels the most out of place, always longing for what lies out of reach.

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Girl Mans Up
Written by M-E Girard
HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
ISBN 978-1-44344-704-1
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Why does everyone have a problem with Pen being the kind of girl she’s always been? They think she should quit trying to be something she’s not. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships and feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth — respect and loyalty are often empty words, and that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

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Li Jun and the Iron Road
Written by Anne Tait with Paulette Bourgeois
Dundurn, 2015
ISBN 978-1-4597-3142-4
IL: Ages 12-15 RL: Grades 7-8

It’s 1882, in southern China, and Li Jun, disguised as a boy, has been working in a fireworks factory earning enough money to sail to British Columbia to find her father and fulfill a promise to her dying mother. In forging a new life, she joins thousands of Chinese men who face danger, deceit and prejudice as they blast a path for the new railway through the Rockies. Based on the award-winning film, Iron Road.

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Patsy Walker

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Hooked on a Feline
(Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!, Volume 1)
Written by Kate Leth
Illustrated by Brittney L. Williams and Natasha Allegri
Colour by Megan Wilson and Natasha Allegri
Marvel Entertainment, 2016
ISBN 978-1-302-90035-9
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Patsy Walker has escaped her past, her enemies and Hell itself — but nothing compares to job hunting in New York City! As she goes from living a double life to a triple one, what the Hell is Patsy supposed to do? There’ll be friendship and burgers, monsters and rent cheques; old friends like She-Hulk and Valkyrie and a ghost from the past with questionable motives!

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#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
Annick Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55451-957-6
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous girls and women across North America resound in this book. In the same visual style as the bestselling Dreaming in Indian, this is an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman.

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Because I am a Girl

Because I am a Girl: I Can Change the World
(Plan Canada International Books)
Written by Rosemary McCarney, Jen Albaugh and Plan International
Second Story Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1-927583-44-9
IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 4-5

Meet some remarkable girls from all over the world. The stories of their lives can be difficult to imagine. They describe the barriers and dangers that they, and millions of other girls, face daily. Despite the hardships they must overcome, these girls have hope for the future and strive to make their lives and those of their families and communities better.

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Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story
Written by David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
HighWater Press, 2015
ISBN 978-1-55379-544-5
IL: Ages 16 and up RL: Grades 10-11

Helen Betty Osborne, following her dream of becoming a teacher, left her home to attend residential school in Manitoba. On November 13, 1971, Betty was abducted and brutally murdered by four young men. Initially met with silence and indifference, her tragic murder resonates loudly today. Betty represents one of almost 1,200 Indigenous women in Canada who have been murdered or have gone missing.

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Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey: Animal Rights Activist and Protector of Mountain Gorillas
(Crabtree Groundbreaker Biographies)
Written by Diane Dakers
Crabtree Publishing, 2016
ISBN 978-0-7787-2565-7
IL: Ages 11-14 RL: Grades 6-7

For many years, Dian Fossey studied mountain gorillas, becoming a respected primatologist and a fierce champion of their preservation. She made powerful enemies because of her opposition to the gorilla-related tourism industry and her anti-poaching and trafficking campaign. In 1985, she was found murdered in Rwanda. The case remains unsolved, but her intense love for gorillas helped create a legacy that survives in the work of others.

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