“I want a YA book with a non-virginal female protagonist who isn’t slut shamed!”

You want Tamora Pierce.

“I want a YA book with girls who actually get their periods and that doesn’t ignore the whole subject!”

Tamora Pierce!

“I want a YA book with a girl protagonist who isn’t skinny and flawlessly beautiful!”

I’ve got good news for you, my friend: Tamora Pierce

“I want a YA book with girls who–”

T A M O R A    P I E R C E

An update on THE TORTALL COMPANION:

At last, we have an official title. Since it’s a collection of documents from the work room of George Cooper, it will (appropriately enough!) be called A SPY’S GUIDE TO TORTALL: FROM THE DESK OF GEORGE COOPER.

There will be an array of new information about the country and characters, immortals never seen in the books, and everything from a breakdown of the Tortallan military to personal correspondence.

More news to come!

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man (Tamora Pierce)

#1

This was my favorite cover of the original set I grew up with - the desert palette contrasting with the deep blue of Alanna’s pants and cloak.  (Finally, some pants!)  Even the font works with this background, and the rearing horse gives it a bit of a Calamity Jane feel, which I always felt worked well with the character.

Complaints:

the other hand, the fact that she’s holding what I think is supposed to be a flame backfires and looks like a lotus.  I AM LADY KNIGHT, CHAMPION OF FLOWERS. Also, the horse is still frilly.

Minimalist-formerly-11-year-old-butch disliked this one the least of the original four because of the super-coiffed-ness of both horse and rider (we grew up with the same set).

#2

The first-edition artwork continues to ascend with this awesome daylight desert cover. The detailing again is what makes it shine - the horse’s saddle gear, the skirt. Love the determined expression, the movement in the fabric and tail, the little plume of dust behind them.

Complaints: you could make a horse so expressive and realistic, but the cat looks like the love child of a badger and a beaver?

#3

I’m starting to think of this series as the ‘fairytale collection’ given the colors and drawing style, and in this case, it works. Points for not making the glowy thing look like a lotus, for the unruly mane and the fact that Alanna’s hair looks like a red version of mine (snarly curls ftw).  Also points for book accuracy: glowy sword, cat riding in saddle cup, etc.

Complaints: Minimalist is not amused by the lioness faces - in fact, is rather unnerved by them. Also, the horse is doing some kind of a limp-wristed HEY GIRL HEY with a chin tilt and some side-eye.

#4

Congratulations to Gollum, who is growing into her face and pulls herself up from the trenches! The lightning around the sword is an excellent touch/nod to the book, the horse is in some armor, as she should be, and I’m digging the chain mail sparkles.

Complaints: it’s still Gollum, guys. Even the horse looks alarmed.

#5

The French continue to be the best of the foreign publishers, again showing a nice sense of movement (dust, mane, etc).  It’s a clear image, with a nuanced, slightly different color palette.

Complaints: Probably the weakest showing from this set so far. I’ve given up on the French understanding that Alanna =/= Mulan. Also, wtf is with the cat perched on the horse’s ass?  He’s going to fall. And he’s not going to like it.

#6

Inoffensive, but boring. I like the tent-flap as a reveal, becuase it feels a little like a stage curtain, and this may be the first cover to really get the cat right - that’s a perfect prowl.

Complaints: the font makes it look like a book report, and Minimalist points out that the whole thing looks like a middle-school photoshop job.  Also, for some reason, Alanna looks like a Musketeer, though I can’t tell if this is a good thing or not .

#7

Thailand, when you get it wrong, you at least get it spectacularly wrong and full of badassery. 

Complaints: A Power Rangers villian is riding a dragon towards Agrahbah. The sun looks like a giant nipple.  Take your pick.

#8

Watch your back, Thailand. Japan is coming for you!  This one gets points for being the Lisa Frank Entry of the batch, and decent-if-not-spectacular cat and horse depictions.

Complaints: The jewlery, the borders, the sword that looks like it couldn’t cut anything, the Dunescape - and generally the absence of anything as badass as the Thai version.

#9

Points for..um…having a nice color spectrum from the sky to the land. And for the nifty shin guards on the horse.

Complaints: super-magic-swirly-sparkly-meteor shower! Looking At That Tank Top Makes My Breasts Hurt! White Leggings! And Good Lord Would You Read That Tagline Because This Book Is Totally Not About A Woman Coming Into Her Own As a Knight At All!

#10

OMG, they finally got the Gift color correct. Hallelujah.

Complaints: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Seriously, what conversation led to this f'kakta version of events? Can you imagine it?

“So, what we’re thinking this whole Team George/Team Jonathan approach is really going to appeal to the kids, yknow? I mean, the book is essentially about how she runs away to the desert to escape having to make the choice between them, right? Won’t the readers appreciate having something to root for? 'Cause, I mean, let’s face it - what else are they going to root for? Her?" 

2

LIST OF THE WEEK: FOR FANS OF GRACELING

On our list this week is a list of ten books for fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, as requested by an anonymous Tumblr user! For more fun lists and all things YA lit, visit our website, follow us here and on Twitter, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

For more on each book, or if you need a text-version / captioned version, visit the list on our main site.

3

Yes. 

Yes. this is Sailor Alanna. Sailor Lioness? It’s basically a crossover of my two favorite ass-kicking women that inspired me as a young girl. Tamora Pierce got me into writing, and Sailor Moon got me into drawing. Both are a huge part of who I am today. 

 It was just going to be a funny sketch but..it just kept going. Forgive me.

Something I worked on over the weekend that I finished up this afternoon.

Strange Magic, Stranger Gender Roles

George Lucas has a new film coming out called “Strange Magic.” The animation looks stellar, but the dialogue and plot…well…not as much. Essentially, it’s a wacky lovers tale. Fairy princess falls in love with the bog king. They start off as bitter enemies until a series of events leads them to slowly fall in love with each other. The moral of the story is that the conventionally attractive young woman should learn to love a man regardless of his outward appearance.

Groundbreaking.

Anyways, I’m not here to complain about “Strange Magic,” I’m here to complain about George Lucas’ marketing of the film. In a recent interview to promote the film, Lucas said that his inspiration for the film came from a desire to make a movie for his daughters. It was adorable and kind of sweet, until he said:

“Just like Star Wars was designed for 12-year-old boys,” says Lucas, “Strange Magic was designed for 12-year-old girls.”

I guess it’s not a surprise that I’m insulted by this comment. Obviously, I reject the notion that science fiction is for boys and fantasy and fairytales are for girls. But this goes beyond my political and social beliefs. It’s almost personal. As much as I may be exasperated by George Lucas at times, he undeniably had an enormous impact on my life.

My father was one of the first people to see Star Wars when it premiered. He went down to Los Angeles and waited with my older siblings for hours to be in one of the first screenings. By the time I was born, he owned the first three Star Wars films on VHS. I started watching Star Wars when I was practically an infant (My dad was a little disappointed that my sister and I liked the Ewoks so much, but what can you do? If you show Star Wars to little kids they’re gonna love the teddy bears.). As soon as I was big enough to wave around a stick I would pretend it was a lightsaber and challenge the neighbor boy to a battle. Star Wars inspired my early love for science fiction and undeniably shaped my current media interests.

But here’s the thing, I also loved fantasy and fairytales. When I was done playing with lightsabers I’d build fairy houses in the schoolyard using twigs, leaves, and flowers. I loved picking up sticks and shaping them into wands. For years on Halloween I’d only ever be a princess or a witch.

I read Harry Potter and Tamora Pierce and Frankenstein and Ray Bradbury. I watched Star Wars and Star Trek and every single Disney princess movie. And my parents never told their twelve year old daughter that Star Wars was for boys and fairytales were for girls.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have to fight to find my place in science fiction. I didn’t want to be Ray Bradbury's Clarisse, there to provide a moment of perfect inspiration and beauty for the male hero, who despised his wife and her friends for reasons that always seemed tinged by sexism. Frankenstein, even though it was written by a woman, had a meager selection of female characters, one of which was killed off rather brutally. Star Wars had Princess Leia, but she was on her own, singularly amazing. And a twelve year old girl needs more than one woman to look up to. For two glorious movies I adored Padmé Amidala, until in “Revenge of the Sith” the former queen, senator, diplomat, and all around badass died of a broken heart. I loved the space battles and the dystopian futures and the ruminations on human nature, and I certainly admired many of the male characters, but I needed more women to look up to.

At least in fantasy I had a plethora of women to admire. Tamora Pierce and JK Rowling gave me literally dozens of women, with every sort of personality type, interest, and career you could possibly imagine. I devoured their books, mimicking and modeling each character’s behaviors as much as I could. J.K. Rowling taught me to have faith in myself and my abilities, to love deeply, and to never let anyone tell me there was anything I couldn’t do. Tamora Pierce taught me that there are many ways to fight a battle, and just as many ways to be a woman. I could fight with a sword or with my words, wear a dress or a pair of pants, and either way my choices would be valid.

As I grew older I found more women in science fiction to admire, women I wish I had known about when I was a twelve year old girl trying to figure herself out. But they were hard to find.

It didn’t have to be that way, and George Lucas could’ve helped with that. Some of my favorite scenes from the original trilogy were the space battles. I used to focus so hard on following the pilots in their cockpits that sometimes I could almost feel the swooping sensation of a sudden maneuver as the pilot and I avoided an attack by the Empire. Lightsabers were cool, but what I really wanted was Luke’s X-Wing.

Recently, I discovered that several of the Rebel pilots were supposed to be women. Though they were visible in passing in the briefing room before the battle of Endor, several women were actually filmed in a cockpit set. One woman even had over a page of scripted dialogue, all of which was cut in the final film. Only footage of one woman remained in the final film, but her voice was dubbed over with a male actor’s voice in the final cut. 

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference it would’ve made for me, as a twelve year old girl, to have seen those female pilots in the final battle. To see those women as fighters, revolutionaries, and equals to their male comrades.

Leia was amazing, but she’s just one woman. And why should I be expected to be satisfied with one woman, to have all of my expectations filled by one character, when boys have so many male characters to look up to? Why are girls expected to find male characters to admire while boys are never told to look up to female characters, and indeed are often openly encouraged to mock characters that girls like?

Maybe Star Wars should’ve been made for the twelve year old girl who stared at the stars and thought about ancient myths and interstellar journeys. Maybe it should’ve been made for the twelve year old girl who practiced fighting with swords and lightsabers against dragons and dark lords. And maybe it should’ve been made for her just as much as it was made for her best friends, the boys who could cast spells and fire laser guns and weren’t afraid to fight with a girl.

I’m sorry that George Lucas thinks that Star Wars is for boys and that Strange Magic is for girls. But us girls have been there from the start. We took Star Wars and made it our own, clawing out a spot for ourselves. And we’re still here, fighting for all of our interests to be respected. I love fairytales and sci-fi and fantasy and space operas and I will not apologize for a single thing that I love. And I will never, ever tell a twelve year old that something was not made for their gender. If someone made it, and you took the time to love it, then that is enough.