I was recently talking to a friend about some issues she had encountered around gender stereotypes. Surely it doesn't matter if a ...

Picture Books Starring Mighty Girls - Little Feminist Book Club

Thursday, January 10, 2019 BookBairn Blog 2 Comments

Little Feminist Book Club

I was recently talking to a friend about some issues she had encountered around gender stereotypes. Surely it doesn't matter if a girl likes superheroes and a boy likes princess dressing up. Let children be children. And let books be books. So I thought that I would share some of our favourite books with main characters that happen to be girls, not stories about historical women who have done fantastic things, or books that push a female/feminist agenda or mighty girl persona. Not that there's anything wrong with those sort of books but I just thought it would be nice to share some stories where it's incidental to the story that the main character is a girl. Stories where traditionally it would have been assumed that the main character was male. Even today male characters are twice as likely to take leading roles in children’s picture books according to recent research by the Observer newspaper. Not only that male characters were given more speaking parts, were portrayed in more masculine roles and, shockingly, in a fifth of books (of the top 100 sellers in 2017) there were no female characters at all.  And since I let the Little Feminist Book Club series of blog posts fall by the wayside - I had great intentions for the first six months of 2018 but I found I couldn't keep up with the monthly requirement! Anyway, I'm here today to share six wonderful books that have a female character at the centre of the story but where that character would have perhaps been more traditionally written as a male. And they are great role models for girls and boys alike!

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph tells the story of one small dog who doesn't fit in, she dances to a difference beat. She looks different, plays differently, she doesn't fit in. So she leaves her city behind in search of new adventures and discovers a new city full of dogs just like her! Great, right? She finally fits in! Except... she meets another odd dog out who tells her to stand tall, be proud: "that dog is right. It's plain to see there's nothing wrong with being me." And on returning home she finds that all her city slicker doggy friends have missed her terribly and maybe they have learned something from her! This lovely book is written in rhyme which makes it a delight to read! And Rob Biddulph is fast-becoming one of my all-time favourite illustrators. His pictures are bold, crisp, sharp and packed full of humour that grown ups will love! His sausage dogs are fabulous! With a flick of his pen he changes their expressions. The attention to detail is truly wonderful. Like in Blown Away (which we reviewed here) his characters are truly irresistible, the settings are vibrant with life. He really is an author-illustrator extraordinaire. 

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen is a book we have been raving about since we first read it. When a terrible beast starts roaming the forest in search of tiny creatures to make a big bowl of monster soup, Billy and her Fatcat cannot let him get away with it. He's got boil in a bag bunnies, spicy mice and grated hedgehog all on his list but can Billy outwit this ferocious beast and save the inhabitants of the forest? Packed full of humour, fun illustrations and a heroine who stashes doughnuts in her hair for emergencies this is a brilliant new fable that will empower as well as make you giggle. And BookBairn loves it!

Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival

Ruby is worried. She has a worry that follows her around everywhere. She tries to ignore it but everyday it gets bigger. No one else can see Ruby's worry so Ruby tried pretend that she can't see it either. But the Worry is always there - stopping her from doing the things that she loves. Ruby worries about the Worry. which only makes it worse. Until one day Ruby notices a boy sitting alone who looks exactly like she feels - sad. And then she notices something hovering next to him. Could it be that he has a Worry too? And maybe they can find a way to shrink their worries together. Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival is a reassuring and sensitive book to open a conversation with children about worries. But it's also a lovely story about about friendship. Beautifully illustrated and with very clever use of colours, this is a great read to enjoy together.

Unplugged by Steve Antony

Unplugged by Steve Antony is the story of Blip, a little robot who spends all her days plugged into a computer learning new things, exploring new places... online. When one day there is a power cut and her world is thrown upside down, down the stairs and out the front door. Into the great outdoors. Where she makes new friends, explores new places, learns new things and plays. Outside. Unplugged. Such a wonderful story about finding joy in the little things, about putting technology aside and looking at the world around you. And the illustrations are wonderful too. It's hard to imagine how a computer could be cute but she is! So yay for Blip fighting the norm of male robots and technology being for boys!

Spyder by Matt Carr

BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner and I all love Spyder by Matt Carr for different reasons! BookBairn loves it because it is a hilarious spy thriller for little readers starring 008 the Spyder whose mission is to keep the evil bluebottle fly from landing on the birthday cake. The Wee Page Turner loves spotting Spyder and the family dog and obviously enjoys the high contrast bright colour palette. And I adore the puns that are scattered throughout which are their to give adults a wry smile as they read. So clever of the author to create a book which appeals on so many levels. And not only that but it stars a female spider who takes the mission at hand and despite several potential mishaps along the way, still succeeds to "mission complete".

Molly's Moon Mission by Duncan Beedie

Ok so perhaps a bit cheeky of me to include this one as it's not actually released until 7th February (2019) but it's so good I didn't want to miss it off the list. (Also we will be taking part in the blog tour just after the release so watch out for that!). In Molly's Moon Mission by Duncan Beedie, Molly the moth (have you ever heard of a book with a moth as the main character - just one of the many reasons to love it!) has always been told that someone as small as her can never make it to the moon. Yearning for adventure, she helps her mother look after her siblings (larvae) during the day and trains hard for her space mission by night. And soon she is ready to blast off. But perhaps the moon is further than even Molly believed. First she gets as far as a lightbulb, but that's not the moon.  Then she makes it as high as a street lamp, but that's not the moon. Then she gets confused but a lighthouse, that's not the moon either. Along the way she is belittled and made to feel too small for such a feat. Will she ever make it? And show everyone that size doesn't matter when you have a big dream? I think you can probably guess! With adorable illustrations and the underlying message of reaching for your dreams, this is a wonderfully heart-warming and gently encouraging story.

So there you have it! Six great books that star girls doing wonderful things and learning (and teaching) valuable lessons where perhaps traditionally it might have been a male character - astronauts, spies and robots in particular! But it really doesn't matter that they are girls because the story works just as well and it's evident through these stories that girls can do anything that boys can do!

And boys can do anything that girls can do. So now I'm looking for some great books for sensitive boys to balance out all the mighty girl books that we have shared recently.

There's also now a dedicated category in my Amazon Shop for Little Feminist/Mighty Girl picture books so you can find them all here:

Happy Reading!
Kim and the bairns xx

Disclaimer: these are all our choices. Some were sent from publishers (others are books that I have bought myself) but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great. Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. If you click on the image of the book below you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link.  This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from Amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog post please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our For Readers Section.

Little Feminist Book Club


  1. I like the sound of Spyder. Will the next Bond be a female? Go girl!

    1. Who knows! Spyder is currently The Wee Page Turner's flick-through so you're bound to need to read it soon!