Monday, June 20, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Girls (and see them too)

A friend shared an article that commented on the finding that males are represented more in children's books than females. Specifically they looked at main characters and names in the titles. (view study at:

Instantly a list of beloved female protagonists came to mind. The question was: Were these girls on the book covers?

In the case of favorites such as Anne of Green Gables, Julie of the Wolves, and even Nancy Drew the main characters were on the covers. But what about others?

I searched the bookshelves and found that it depends. For example, the first edition of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper & Brothers, 1943) there is no sign of Francie on the cover. But the Harper Perennial 2005 version has used her as the focal point (love the mirror image position of the tree).

The same is true for Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. The UK edition was titled Northern Lights (Scholastic Point, 1995) and features the compass but no characters. The Alfred A Knopf 2007 publication has Lyra sharing the cover.

And my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Turtleback Books, 1999) opted for the no character cover whereas the 2002 Harper Perennial cover found a girl to be the face of Scout.

Looking at recent publications, there are some great examples of covers that embrace their female characters.
by Kate Coombs (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2009)

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
(First Second, 2010)

Have any favorite books with female protagonists? Are they on the cover?

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