Hello! Once a month I recommend some of the latest and greatest books being published for girls. Every May at New Moon, we publish our Girls Are Beautiful As Themselves special issue of the magazine. This issue started in 1999 to counteract the message of People Magazine’s annual “50 Most Beautiful People,” which focuses purely on appearance.
On the other hand, at NMG we know that girls are beautiful as themselves. So our special issue features girls and who they are on the INSIDE — beauty shines through their personality and actions just like yours does. So this month, I’m highlighting some books that showcase girls whose bravery, determination and uniqueness makes them shine.
- Have you ever had to be the new girl in town? Fitting in can be especially hard when you come from a family of Iranian immigrants just as the revolution in Iran is making headlines in the 1970s. That’s what Zomorod is going through in It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas. So she decides to change her name to “Cindy” in her attempt to start anew — but will her new start let her be who she really is, sense of humor, braininess, loner personality and all? Read this book, which was based on the author’s real-life experiences growing up Persian in America, to find out.
- Falling Hard by Megan Sparks also looks at what it’s like to be a new girl. This time, Annie moves with her father from London to a small town in Illinois. Her British accent and reserved personality make it hard for her to fit in — but when she joins the roller derby team, she finds the speed, talent and determination to keep going!
- In the All Four Stars series by Tara Dairman, Gladys follows her passion for cooking to New York, even after her parents ban her from using the kitchen for starting a fire! She puts her talent to use as a restaurant reviewer, fooling magazine editors into believing she is an adult. In The Stars of Summer, a summer away at camp almost ruins her career — and the next challenge for this girl following her dreams may be the biggest of all: starting middle school in Stars So Sweet.
- Isabel Feeney definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. Not only is she one of the only newsgirls selling papers in 1920s Chicago, but she also dreams of being a reporter and covering the news herself one day. When she stumbles upon a murder scene, she is determined to crack the case, despite the danger. Read about her adventures in Isabel Feeney: Star Reporter by Beth Fantasky.
- Stage Struck: Curtain Up! by Lisa Fiedler and Anya Wallach also features a girl following her passion — this time for musical theater! When Anya is cut from her school’s soccer team, she decides to use the extra time to put together a kids’ summer theater troupe. This story is based on the real-life experiences of writer Anya Wallach, whose summer theater camp ended up launching the career of young Broadway stars!
- Do you have an adventurous spirit? Then check out Raven’s Mountain by Wendy Orr. Raven is so excited when she is the first to reach the top of the mountain she is hiking with her family that she does a crazy, jumping, spinning dance — just before the earth shakes and she and her family are separated by the rubble from a rock fall. Now, it’s up to Raven to go back down the mountain by herself and rescue the family members left behind.
- In Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, Annabelle has lived a quiet life in the midst of World War II until relentless bully, Betty, arrives in town. When Betty disappears, everyone in town suspects Toby, a World War I veteran scarred by his war experiences. But Annabelle sees kindness in Toby, and she must find the courage to stand up for him when others just point the finger.
- If you’re looking for something a little lighter, check out the Mabel Jones series by Will Mabbit, which begins with The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones. So, we know that to be a beautiful girl, you don’t have to be perfect, right? Sometimes even beautiful girls have bad habits like picking their noses or chewing their fingernails. But when Mabel Jones picks HER nose, she opens up a parallel universe run by pirates! Oops …well, nothing to do now but have an adventure!
- Lots of New Moon Girls agree that being a good friend makes someone beautiful. In The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society by Janet Sumner Johnson, Annie is trying to come up with an idea to save her best friend’s home from foreclosure. Could she sell her appendix on eBay, win the lottery, or hunt down a pirate treasure? Find out the lengths Annie will go to to help a friend in this fun book.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Have you read any of the books featured above? What books do you recommend that showcase girls who are beautiful just the way they are? Leave a comment below!
Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a reporter for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”