Children’s Books with Spirited Kids: Some Canadian Favourites

One proclamation from yesterday’s post that particularly caught my eye is the condemnation of those “amnesiacs who treasure unruly classics while praising the bland today.”  One answer to amnesia, of course, is to keep the classics current, and some of the best heroines have never gone out of print.  And one cure for blandness is to make sure that current gems become instant classics.  My picks for spirited kids are all girls, because I like my boys to meet girls with guts. 

Red is Best

by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis

Red is Best is a short and sweet rendition of the battle over what to wear.  Young Kelly’s mom doesn’t understand about red. Sure, the brown mittens are warmer, but the red mitts make better snowballs. And the red boots aren’t just for rain; they take bigger steps in any weather.  And, yes!  A green cup does make a difference … juice tastes better in the red cup. No doubt about it, red is best.

Voted one of the best Canadian children’s books of all time by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, this is a true classic, helpful for parents when the lesson for the day is “pick your battles,” but more importantly, it is a vision of the world through the eyes of a girl who knows exactly what she wants, no matter what others say. 

The Paper Bag Princess

by Robert Munsch

illustrated by Michael Martchenko

The Paper Bag Princess

Oh, Paper Bag Princess, how we love you!  Elizabeth is an ordinary princess in princess clothes who is destined to marry her prince from page one.  When a dragon burns down her castle, kidnaps her prince and leaves her with nothing to wear but a paper bag, she puts it on and hunts down and outsmarts her nemesis.  When her prince turns out to be less than charming about it, she dances happily off into the sunset.  Alone.  A perfect antidote to all the Little Mermaids, Sleeping Beauties and Cinderellas.

Stella: Queen of the Snow

by Marie Louise Gay

Ages 2-6

Stella has appeared in several books, and now t.v, and she is such an aptly named heroine.  Stella means star, and this Stella is the star in her own life.  Queen of the Snow, Star of the Sea, Fairy of the Forest, her roles and adventures are endless.  Indomitable, adventurous and always kind to her little brother Sam, Stella is a girl in charge.  (Adults never seem to make an appearance in the books, leaving the kids to explore freely.)  Is it inevitable that her red hair reminds me of Anne Shirley?  A worthy successor.


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