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Summer Reading, Part 3: Books for Adventurous Girls

Harper, with some light summer reading

Harper, with some light summer reading

Editor’s note: Here are our book picks for the summer, selected and presented by our illustrious Disney Dads bloggers. They’re books that are poignant, books that are fun, books that are our guilty pleasures, and/or books we just think you should read for the good of humanity.

This is recommendation No. 3 of 10: a round-up of four fabulous books for your daughters’ summer bookshelves.

As editor of many dad writers on Babble and a single mother of four, I get asked for advice almost constantly from dads I know. Sometimes I think I should have a column called “Hey Jules, can I ask you something?” because I hear that at least two or three times a day. Most of the questions come from single dads of daughters, and range from help with clothing sizes, thoughts about footwear, or what various-aged girls want for their birthday.

The questions dads ask me all seem to point to this: Dads and daughters have a particular bond that is slightly different than the typical mother-daughter relationship. Dads are amazing allies for girls. They really “get” how to engender a sense of freedom, independence, originality, and strength in their daughters’ lives. The dad-daughter relationship is a beautiful thing, for both sides.

So even though the Disney Dads Summer Book List is comprised mostly of posts by Disney Dads bloggers, I felt I wanted to chime in as the editor, resident mom, resident Hey Jules.

I got some help from my daughter Harper, 16, to narrow the field down to just four amazing books that we think represent some great reading for girls of different ages.

The latest in the Junie B. Jones series: Aloha-ha-ha!

The latest in the Junie B. Jones series: Aloha-ha-ha!

1. A book for early readers:

The Junie B. series of books, by Barbara Park

Junie B., First Grader is a rare treat of a series for young readers. Barbara Park manages to completely nail the voice of this little girl, a sort of modern Pippi Longstocking. She’s original, genuine, adventurous, and fantastically outspoken. I used to have my daughter read these aloud to me, for the pure enjoyment of it — she happened to be an early reader. Every kid learns to read differently, as I can attest. These books are just as great to read aloud to your child. If you haven’t gotten to know Junie B. yet, I can’t recommend this series enough.

Junie B., First Grader  books are available from Random House.

***

The-Curse-of-Maleficent2. A book for the girl who might be reluctant to see scary movies in the theater:

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty, Adapted by Elizabeth Rudnick from the screenplay by Linda Woolverton.

Sometimes seeing dark stories projected on a movie screen can be overwhelming for young minds. I know several little girls who love the Sleeping Beauty story, want to see Maleficent on the big screen, but were slightly daunted by the movie’s trailer, which was pretty dark and spine-chilling. The movie is about one of the most infamous fairy tale villains of all time, after all.

Elizabeth Rudnick does a great job, however, in doing the reverse of what most books do: She adapts the movie onto the page. Reading the story, or having it read aloud, is a great way to experience the movie in one’s mind before seeing it on the screen. Not all “novelizations” of movies are worth reading, but The Curse of Maleficent is particularly well done, and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Nicholas Kole that complement the tone of the movie without quite equaling its darkness or scariness.

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty, adapted by Elizabeth Rudnick, Illustrated by Nicholas Kole, based on the screenplay by Linda Woolverton, is available from Disney Press.

***

harriet3. A book for curious girls, girls who love to write, and girls who love a good walk in the city:

Harriet the Spy, written and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh (Special Anniversary Edition)

Harriet just turned 50 years old — or at least the book she first appeared in did. Harriet the Spy chronicles Harriet’s life both from the author’s storytelling voice and in words that Harriet writes in a notebook. The way in which she documents her life and ideas and fears and musings in the pages of her notebook could inspire any young girl to know the wonders of keeping a diary of pure, honest, unedited thoughts. This book sings to girls who love words, both for reading and writing.

Harriet the Spy, written and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh, is available in a special 50th anniversary edition from Delacorte Press.

***

4. For the fantasy-loving, wildly adventurous tween or early teen:

deep blueDeep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly

I think almost every girl goes through a mermaid-obsessed phase. Harper went through several. I know she is not alone out there in the wild world of girls. First, she had her age 3 to age 7 Disney Ariel phase, and then there was the age 9 and 10 Emily Windsnap phase (another great series, by the way.) There is something inherently independent and different about mermaids owing to the fact that they don’t have legs or breathe air like most other girls on the planet. Mermaids are adventurers, mystical, elusive. Girls with imaginations that take them to far off distant lands completely identify with these finned creatures.

For the slightly older girl, tween or teen, (especially those that love puns) New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly’s new Water Fire saga is a perfect fit. Deep Blue, just out since last month, is the first book in the series. The book is a wonderful mix of dream and waking reality, of following intuition, of girls from different lands (or in this case, rather, seas) coming together for the sake of peace, and of keeping aligned with your inner truths.

Deep Blue, written by Jennifer Donnelly, is available from Disney-Hyperion.

Read other recommendations for summer reading from Disney Dad bloggers Frank and Steven!

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