100 children’s books with leading ladies (part 2)

When we had the middle-of-the-night brainwave to compile a list of 100 stories starring females to mark the centenary of Votes For Women, we didn’t quite appreciate what a mammoth task that might be.

But we made it – and to make things easier to digest, we’ve put picture books 51 to 100 in this second post. We published numbers 1-50 yesterday.

All these books have a lead or main character (human, animal or other) who is female, to redress the gender balance in children’s books.

Please do let us know what you think of our choices – and if there are any you think we’ve missed.

(And how brilliant is the image above of Rob Biddulph’s Odd Dog Out as a Suffragette?!)

51. The Princess and The Pony by Kate Beaton (Walker)

Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A big, strong horse fit for a warrior princess. But when the day comes, she doesn’t quite get the pony she anticipated…

Read our review of King Baby by Kate Beaton

52. I Love You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark (Andersen Press)

Lily and Blue Kangaroo have a very special friendship but this comes under threat as new toys appear.  But when Blue Kangaroo goes missing, her love for him shines through.

“A lovely book especially for a child who needs lots of reassurance,” says Nicola Lee, owner of the Children’s Bookshop in Huddersfield.

53. Never Tickle A Tiger by Pamela Bauchart and Marc Boutavent (Bloomsbury)

Izzy is always fidgeting so when she goes on a school trip to the zoo, her teacher warns her to keep her hands to herself. Yet she simply can’t – with chaotic results.

54. The Girl With The Bird’s Nest Hair by Sarah Dyer (Bloomsbury)

No one likes brushing their hair but the refusnik girl at the centre of this story learns the hard way about why her mum is always wielding her hairbrush…

55. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

She’s quiet by day but a secret inventor by night. So when Rosie’s great, great-aunt comes to visit and mentions her unfinished ambition to fly, the inventive girl sets out to help her.

“It’s great fun to read aloud and it shows our girls that it’s okay to fail and how to learn from that,” says Ruth Thompson, librarian at Alderley Edge School for Girls.

56. Pearl Power by Mel Elliott (I Love Mel)

Five-year-old Pearl believes in gender equality and when she moves schools, she teaches a fellow pupil a lesson in girl power as well as kindness.

57. Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert by Morag Hood and Ella Okstad (Simon & Schuster)

It’s not easy running a school for unicorns, as Sophie Johnson discovers. With 17 to care for, there are horns to be cared for, magic to be taught – and they really are quite messy too.

58. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls By Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular)

The crowdfunded publishing sensation takes 100 real life tales of inspiring women and turns them into true fairy tales of heroines that don’t need rescuing.


59. Angel’s Great Escape by Kirstie Rowe (And So We Begin)

A Christmas angel proves she more than just a pretty decoration when she saves her fellow ornaments from a miserly family intent on throwing them away.

Author Kirstie Rowe shares her favourite five Christmas stories

60. Stardust by Jeanne Willis and Briony May Smith (Nosy Crow)

One girl dreams of being a star but it seems like her big sister always shines brighter. Can her grandfather show her that everyone has the ability to shine?

“I like the idea of telling my daughter you can be anything, you can do anything and remember… you are made of stardust too!” says @_plummy_ on Twitter.

61. Very Little Rapunzel by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (Puffin)

The fairytale character is reimagined as a strong-willed toddler who won’t cut her hair – until she gets nits and comes up with a clever new way to use her long locks.

62. The Princess and the Peas by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow)

When Lily-Rose May refuses to eat her peas, despite her father’s delicious culinary creations, a doctor diagnoses her with Princess-itus and sends her to live at the palace.

63. Handstand by Lisa Stickley (Pavilion)

Practice makes perfect as Edith learns to do the perfect handstand while young readers learn their numbers – and the benefits of persistence – at the same time.

64. Franklin’s Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell (Thames & Hudson)

A sweet story about a dragon who loves to share books but just scares people away – until a bookworm called Luna helps him find a way to harness his passion and join the community.

The five best travelling bookshops, as chosen by Jen Campbell

65. Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)

Inventor Izzy creates marvellous, magnificent machines – although they often malfunction. When she rescues an injured crow, can she find a way to help him fly again?

“Absolutely fabulous,” says @bookmonsterally on Twitter.

66. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (Chronicle)

Flora and her flamingo friend navigate the ups and downs of a relationship through dance, eventually learning to become perfect partners who are in synch with each other.

67. Grandma’s House by Alice Melvin (Tate)

Detailed illustrations and cut out details transform this book into a house to be explored and tells the story of a little girl who often visits her grandmother’s house where everything is different, but always the same.

68. Jill & Lion by Lesley Barnes (Tate)

The follow up to Jill & Dragon see our heroine and her loyal companion Dog help a magnificent lion who is forced to join the circus and drive a toy car in endless circles.

69. Tooth Fairies and the Jetpacks by Kurt Fried (Wonderstruck)

The story of two sisters who discover how the hardworking tooth fairies are not magical beings – but super cool scientists and engineers.

70. Prince Cinders by Babette Cole (Puffin)

Prince Cinders leads a hard life, bullied by his brothers. So when a small fairy falls down the chimney, she promises to make his wishes come true. If only her spells would turn out right…

“This is ace – we love how she reverse the roles,” says &Breathe founder and mum Clio Wood.

71. The Greedy Goat by Petr Horacek (Walker)

When Goat has enough of eating grass, she decides to try something different. But as she munches through the pig’s peelings and the farmer’s flowers, she find herself in a spot of trouble.

72. Binx the Jinx by Michelle Hird (Tiny Tree)

When Binx the cat moves to a new town and is faced with the local bullies, a ginger cat called Gin shows him that he has a friend in her.

73. Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan)

Zog is the keenest dragon in school. He’s also the most accident-prone but luckily a mysteriously little girl always come by and patches up his bumps and bruises. Can she help him capture a princess?

Step into the books of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at Discover Story Centre

74. Oh No! Where Did Walter Go? by Joanna Boyle (Templar)

Olive and her parakeet pal Walter have the most exciting adventures. But when her feathered friend disappears, the girl must use all her determination to find him.

75. The Princess and the Giant by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow)

A resourceful princess climbs the beanstalk armed with porridge, a teddy, a cuddle and a good bedtime story to help a grumpy old giant get to sleep.

“Sophie’s dad does the cooking and her mother chops the fire wood, which I think is great,” says mum of two Elly on Facebook.

76. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld (Henry Holt)

Being small has its advantages but what if you want to achieve something great, like help a garden grow or a brook babble? A sweet story about size being no measure of success.

77. Wild by Emily Hughes (Flying Eye)

A beautiful book about whether it is right to truly tame something born to be wild, centred around a little girl brought up by animals.

78. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton (Frances Lincoln)

Katy is a red crawler tractor, becoming a bulldozer in summer and a snowplough in winter. Most years the snow isn’t heavy enough to need her services. But not this time.

79. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch (Annick Press)

A true classic about what it really means to be a hero when a strong princess outwits a dragon to rescue her fiancé (and discovers that he really wasn’t worth saving after all…).

80. Miffy by Dick Bruna (Simon & Schuster)

The little rabbit has become a iconic of children’s literature, with her simple tales that are designed to appeal to the very youngest readers and always have a happy ending.

“She is so timeless and as popular as ever. My all-time favourite character,” says author-illustrator Jane Foster.

81. Here Comes The Sun by Karl Newson and Migy Blanco (Nosy Crow)

While all the other animals sleep through the night, Little Owl has work to do – she needs to blow the stars out one by one to make way for morning.

82. Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Libby Walden and Richard Jones (Caterpillar Books)

A beautiful peep through version of Aesop’s classic fable where a mouse who tires of busy town life longs to swap places with her country cousin.

83. Ella Who? by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Sara Sanchez (Sterling)

When a little girl moves to a new house, she discovers a baby elephant called Fiona living there and a beautiful friendship blossoms while her parents are too busy to notice.

84. Molly Mischief Saves The World by Adam Hargreaves (Pavilion)

The second book by the Mr Men creator about a larger than life little girl who develops superhero powers.

85. The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie

Sad Princess Sue is impatiently waiting for her prince to come – but when he arrives, he’s not at all what she has in mind. Does she really need this twit to make her complete after all?

“It’s funny and subverts sterotypes. Gorgeous illustrations,” says @kidsbookideas on Twitter.

86. Animal Hospital: Convertible Playbook (Miles Kelly)

This clever three-in-one book follows female vet Sam’s adventures at work then converts into a playmat and stand up animal hospital with press out pieces.

87. Florence Frizzball by Claire Freedman and Jane Massey (Simon & Schuster)

Curly-haired Florence hates her hair and dreams of straight locks like her little brother. But will transforming herself to look like everyone else really make her happy?

88. Brick by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman (Phaidon) – out this summer

When Brick was a baby, tall buildings amazed her but her mother always told her that big things begin with small bricks. An architectural tale with a lovely message about working together to be something greater.

89. Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Macmillan)

Little Red loves reading and also making up her own stories.  So when she meets a wolf on the way to library, she recognises where this tale is heading – and decides to make up her own ending.

90. The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Little Mermaid by Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard (Penguin)

Cool Kitty Lacey has a salon in the centre of Fairytale Village, where she cuts the hair of the famous residents and joins them on their adventures.

“She’s an independent heroine with her own business. She’s kind, compassionate, brave and always willing to help anybody in trouble,” says Catherine Freiss of storysnug.com

91. The Mouse Who Wasn’t Scared by Petr Horacek (Walker)

Little Mouse wants to play in the woods and she’s not afraid of the dark trees or the big animals that live there – or is she? A charming lift the flap book with gorgeous artwork.

92. Famously Phoebe by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Aurelie Blard-Quintard (Sterling)

For her whole life, she’s been surrounded by cameras – which Phoebe thinks must mean she is famous. But how will she cope when a younger co-star joins her family?

93. The River by Hanako Clulow (Caterpillar)

Follow a little fish on her epic journey from the river to the ocean, passing mountains, forest and plains along the way.

94. Princess Scallywag and the Brave Brave Knight by Mark Sperring and Claire Powell (HarperCollins Children’s)

When a dragon terrorises her kingdom, the queen employs a brave knight who happens to be passing by to save her subjects. But there’s more to this hero than meets the eye…

95. As Nice As Pie by Gary Sheppard (Maverick Arts)

Mavis loves to bake and to share, so is happy to give a little bird a few crumbs. But as more birds get wind of her generosity and become more demanding, she cooks up a plan to teach them a lesson.

Blogger Book Monster Ally describes lead character Mavis as “vivacious, intelligent and plucky. A gorgeous gem of a book with a female role model.”

 96. Christmas for Greta and Gracie by Yasmeen Ismail (Nosy Crow)

Little sister Gracie is happy to let her outgoing older sibling do all the talking. But when Santa stops by on Christmas Eve, the quiet girl finds she has plenty to say.

97. Ziggy and the Moonlight Show by Kristyna Litten (Simon & Schuster)

Zebra Ziggy helps a stripy bird search for her missing chick. Will they find the baby in time to join the other animals for the moonlight show?

98. Juniper Jupiter by Lizzie Stewart (Frances Lincoln)

Juniper is a real life superhero who can fly, is brave and very smart. But what is a superhero without a super sidekick – and will she ever find the right one?

99. Nell The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Macmillan)

Peter’s dog Nell has a keen sense of smell – so who better to turn detective and track down the thief who has taken all the books from the school library?

100. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

This accessible book tells the stories of history’s most influential ladies, written by the descendant of super Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s also packed with inspiring facts and beautiful illustrations to capture event he youngest of minds.

“This book is brilliant. I bought it for my niece for her birthday and a couple of weeks later we bought it for a niece on the other side of the family. I’ll be buying it for my son too, when he’s older. It’s history (hooray!), made fun (double hooray!) and inspirational for all kids (triple… you get the gist),” says Chris of 100 days of dad. 

Read more… 100 picture books with leading ladies (part 1)

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