Today we hear from Sophia Bennett…
When Bookbabblers suggested this title to me, I thought it would be easy. Having loved books for so long, and read so many in my childhood, as well as reading children’s books today, I’d be spoiled for choice, surely? But actually, it was tough. Two heroines shone through: Posy Fossil and Hermione Granger. But then I wanted boys. I wanted Charlie Bucket. I wanted William Brown. I wanted Jennings, creator of ‘Flixton Slick, Super Sleuth’. I realise that I was gender neutral as a young reader, and I still am. I like tough, ingenious protagonists with a sense of humour, soft spot for their friends, but an ability to stick their necks out and get things done. Boy or girl, I don’t mind. However, the title said heroines, so here are some of the girls I’m grateful for.
Posy Fossil from Ballet Shoes
Posy talks with her feet. She revises with her feet. She is stubborn, dedicated and deeply talented. She just gets on with doing what she’s brilliant at (ballet) and one day you know, for sure, she’s going to be a superstar. Posy would be a deeply annoying little sister to have, but you’d be so proud of her. I think Noel Streatfield was very brave to create someone as young, focused and amazing as Posy. Then I tried to do a similar thing when I created Crow. Thank you, Ms Streatfield!
Hermione Granger from all the Harry Potters
How many girls don’t think they’re Hermione? I’m certainly one of the many millions who identifies with her completely. I love her cleverness, her loyalty, her desire to stick to the rules, which is constantly fighting with her natural bravery and need to help her friends. I also love her vulnerability when she thinks they don’t like her as much as she likes them – and the fact that it’s Ron she falls for, not Harry. Harry is her best mate. That’s cool. And she has great hair.
Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden
When I was ten, I set myself a reading challenge, which was to read a book in a day. That book was The Secret Garden, and one of the reasons I’ve always loved it so much is Mary. A bit like Posy (and Crow), she’s hard to get to know at first, and when you do, you’re not sure you want to. She’s arrogant and selfish, because that’s how she’s been brought up. But she’s also lonely and confused. Given the opportunity, she opens up to nature, she becomes a shoulder to lean on, literally, and she grows into a lovely girl, who brings life and hope where it’s much needed. I know girls like that today – and boys too – and they’re fabulous.
Jerusha Abbott, from Daddy-Long-Legs
Nowadays, you just couldn’t have a teenage girl writing to a guy she doesn’t know, but depends on, and calling him ‘Daddy’ – but a hundred years ago, things were different. Jerusha, who quickly renames herself Judy, is given a lucky break by a rich man who takes pity on a brave, witty, poor orphan, and she makes the most of every minute of it. Her letters to Mr Long-Legs are bursting with her excitement at her new life. Big spoiler alert here, but my favourite line is the final P.S.: ‘This is the first love-letter I ever wrote. Isn’t it funny that I know how?’ Guaranteed to make me cry just a little bit.
Jo March from Little Women
Throughout all the vicissitudes of her close and complicated family life, Jo – like Jerusha – wants to be a writer. I think that probably explains why she’s a very special character to me. She cuts off her hair to sell – her ‘beautiful chestnut brown hair’ – for the sake of her family. That act stayed with me. I wonder whether Jo has subconsciously influenced me in the book I’m about to start writing … If she has, I’m glad.
Thanks, Sophia! We’re actually reading about Posy Fossil together this month, as Ballet Shoes is one of our Book of the Month reads. Some great choices there – what does everyone else think?
Sophia writes the ‘Threads’ books, and is currently working on book 3 of the series. You can buy the first two, ’Threads’ and ‘Beads, Boys and Bangles’, below now. To find out more about Sophia, pop to her website here and follow her on Twitter here.