The bookshop enthusiasts at Workman HQ are ecstatic to feature the only indie bookshop in Queens on the blog today. (Soon there will be two!) Astoria Bookshop is cozy, friendly, and full of female empowerment, which made them a perfect spotlight for Women’s History Month and our Strong Books for Strong Women company-wide initiative.
Please welcome Gabby Fiore, a full-time student and part-time bookseller at the bookshop, who is always ready to discuss tweet-worthy kid reads while behind the register at the store.
It’s so important to teach children that women can be—and are—strong, before they even learn the word “feminist.” In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite kids’ feminist reads.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley: A captivating non-fiction picture book about Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, instilling feminist values and independent thinking in readers of all ages.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts: A charming picture book about a young girl (great-great-niece of Rosie the Riveter) who secretly invents and tinkers all night long, in the hope of one day becoming an engineer. When her biggest invention yet doesn’t work quite as expected, Rosie declares it a failure, but her great-great-aunt explains that the only true failure is in refusing to try. A motivating story with adorable illustrations, Rosie Revere is a role model for all our young inventors.
Bloom by Doreen Cronin, and illustrated by David Small: This gorgeously illustrated book is the journey of an “regular” girl looking for the help of a magical Mud Fairy. It’s a story about friendship, letting loose, and the belief that we can all accomplish the extraordinary if we just stop thinking we’re ordinary.
Princess In Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: Magnolia leads two lives: to the public, she’s prim, proper, and pink Princess Magnolia, but when her monster alarm calls, she becomes the vigilante Princess in Black. This cute and funny chapter series details a young girl who isn’t afraid to defend herself and others, while defying the stereotypes of her world—who says princesses can’t wear black?
Fantastic Frame: Danger! Tiger Crossing by Lin Oliver: Tiger and his new next-door neighbor, Luna Lopez, spend their after-school hours at the house of their anti-social neighbor, who has a magic picture frame that transports them to the famous paintings inside it. As fun as traveling through paintings can be, if Tiger and Luna don’t escape the painting before time runs out, they’ll be stuck forever. This new chapter book series that mixes a little art history with fantasy and strong-willed protagonists is sure to excite.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon: This comic/chapter book series is perfect for reluctant readers and fairy-tale lovers. Harriet Hamsterbone is a sassy hamster princess with a Sleeping Beauty curse. For Harriet, this means that until she’s twelve years old, she’s safe and can do absolutely anything she wants—going on grand adventures, riding and fighting her way through the kingdom—until she accidentally curses the entire kingdom, and must go on a grand quest to save them.
The Wingsnatchers: Carmer and Grit by Sarah Jean Horwitz: The Wingsnatchers is a fantasy series set in a steampunk city where mechanical monsters are threatening the faerie kingdom. Carmer, a magician’s apprentice and aspiring inventor, and Grettifrida (aka Grit), a lone-winged fire faerie and the sole heir to the faerie thrown, must join magic and machine to save their world. Readers will be lured in by the exciting mechanical world, Carmer’s hopeful and honest personality, and Grit’s fiery and brave heart.
The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Jen Hill: This witty and dry-humored pirate series opens on Jaundice and Kale Bland, the most boring and bland sisters you’ve ever met (they literally do, eat, and read the same thing—a dictionary—every day), who get kidnapped by an all-female band of pirates. This is a pirate adventure with an all female cast, two sisters who must learn to adapt to their new life’s adventure, and solve the mystery of their parents’ disappearance.
The Kat Sinclair Files: Dead Air #1 by Michelle Schusterman, illustrated by Stephanie Olesh: The Kat Sinclair Files follow Kat to different locations around the world as she blogs about her adventures behind the scenes of her dad’s ghost-hunting TV series. This creepy, tv-centric series is the perfect read for kids just getting into ghosts or with a hankering for a look behind the television curtain. Kat is a fierce and brave heroine with a Nancy Drew-like lust for solving mysteries, which comes in handy when she realizes her dad’s show, Passport to Paranormal, might just be haunted.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston: A modernization of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, this book is a captivating, heart-wrenching novel focusing on Hermione Winters—captain of her competitive cheerleading team and full of wit, pep, sass, and dedication to her sport. Hermione is determined to secure her legacy in her senior year and her last session at cheer camp, only to pull the rug out from under us when Hermione is drugged, raped, and almost drowned during a camp party. Never have I read a book that has made me feel so passionately for the character—never have I read a book that has made me feel so broken inside, as if I too must work to heal myself alongside Hermione. Every girl should read this book. Hermione is determined not to be a victim; she is determined not to be defined by someone else’s decision.
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw: This novel had me laughing out loud (on a crowded subway train) and silently crying (also on the train). Full of wit and sassy feminism, this novel is definitely for those raised on fan fiction and online communities. Written three-fourths through Scarlett’s perspective and one-fourth as Scarlett’s original story about robots and relationships—it’s two amazing stories in one! Both heartfelt and hysterical, this book is one for the millennials.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: An intense read about Amanda Hardy’s struggle to be accepted as Amanda, rather than Andrew. Part romance, part LGBT coming-of-age, part feminist commentary. Ultimately? A story about friendship.
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen: The perfect way to end this list is with this a compilation of essays, poems, photos, lists, comics, and illustrations about what it means to be a feminist in today’s age. Place this in the hands of any young adult and they’ll be sure to thank you.
If you find yourself in Queens (maybe on your way to the Museum of the Moving Image or Citifield for a Mets game), do stop by and say hello to the friendly folks at Astoria Bookshop. Here are two fun facts about them to add to your breadth of indie bookstore trivia:
- They are a lesbian owned, queer positive bookstore with an all-female staff (for now!) and were opened by publishing vet, Lexi Beach, when she noticed Queens was missing a general interest bookstore.
- In February 2017, the bookstore started hosting a Feminist Book Club started by one of their customers, Jen Adams. They hope to read a variety of female writers and use them as a springboard to explore a wide range of women’s issues. Their March pick is Second-Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta.
Gabriella Abbate is a full-time student at Hunter College pursuing English with a concentration in Creative Writing, Classical Studies with a concentration in Latin, and Psychology. She works part-time at the Astoria Bookshop where she specializes in children’s literature and will be starting a Young Adult Book Club in February/March. When she’s not reading, you can find her playing Disney Infinity, binge-watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and cooking. She is also a Type 1 Diabetic and regularly volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @GabbyFiore.