Heidi Schulz’s delightful debut novel, Hook’s Revenge, introduced readers to an unforgettable character in twelve-year-old Jocelyn, daughter of the infamous pirate Captain Hook. In its swashbuckling sequel, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, Jocelyn decides to search for her father’s legendary fortune—but when things don’t go smoothly, she enlists the help of Peter Pan. Of course, in order to get him to cooperate, she has to kidnap his mother, Evie. As you can imagine, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code is full of all the mischief and adventure we’ve come to expect from Jocelyn Hook! After providing us with some invaluable tips and recommendations for reluctant readers, Heidi is back to share some of her favorite female characters in children’s literature with us.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about girls in literature. No surprise, I suppose, since my second book was just released. Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code—along with its predecessor, Hook’s Revenge—features a heroine: Jocelyn Hook, daughter of the Neverland’s infamous Captain Hook.
Jocelyn is a girl, like so many I admire in books, that doesn’t fit the mold. She’s brash and impetuous, sometimes even quite rude. She struggles with self-doubt and doubts about her friends’ abilities to help her accomplish her goals. She’s ambitious to a fault, and at times, overestimates her own capabilities. She eschews her society’s notions of conformity and femininity, seeking adventure over embroidery—all while preferring to wear a dress (long hems can be torn off to become bandages, handkerchiefs, or carrying pouches for spiders).
In The Pirate Code, readers will spend time with two more girl characters: Tiger Lily, who is such a confident and strong leader for her people. Tiger Lily knows what she wants and how to get it. She is respected and respectful of others—such a wonderful role model for Jocelyn.
And Evie, who has come to the Neverland to be Peter Pan’s newest mother. Evie is pretty, optimistic, and interested in romance. She’s also daring, fearless, loyal, and in possession of a strong thirst for adventure.
I loved writing each of these characters, and thinking about how they were different and how they were the same. I hope they can take their place among other break-the-mold girls I admire in children’s novels.
Lyra Silvertongue, for example, from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. Lyra is fierce, determined, and so incredibly brave. She is equally comfortable surrounded by the ladylike finery of Mrs. Coulter’s apartment as when she conducts wars with the local boys upon the rooftops of Oxford College. Lyra is a girl I would like to know.
Or Harriet from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. There’s no mold for this girl: sneaky, vengeful, depressive, curious, and absolutely wonderful.
In more recent books, Gladys Gatsby from the All Four Stars series by Tara Dairman stands out as a mold-breaker. Her passions are food—really good food—and writing. She is definitely a girl after my own heart.
Speaking of food, Kat Yeh’s The Truth About Twinkie Pie introduces us to smart and sassy GiGi and her sister DiDi, two girls living on their own after their mama died, each trying to keep her memory alive in her own way.
I won’t soon forget heroic Corinne, taking on the frightful jumbies in Tracey Baptiste’s recent twist on traditional Haitian folklore: The Jumbies.
And then there is Nell, the daring detective in training from Kate Hannigan’s The Detective’s Assistant; confident, yet awkward, Ruth from Megan Frazier Blakemore’s The Friendship Riddle; smart and strong Cassie from Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez… I could go on and on.
These fictional girls are like so many real life girls and women I know: Girls who love dresses and makeup, or bow ties and fresh faces, or combat boots and ripped jeans. Girls who are brave and smart and soft and kind and funny and scared and flawed and rude and uncomfortable and jagged and passionate and amazing at being who they are. Girls that are any combination of the above, or something else entirely.
The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes: Real girls, in life and literature, don’t fit any mold. That makes for a very wonderful world, indeed.
Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code is available in stores now!