The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson. HarperTrophy, 1992. Currently available.
Genre: Fiction/fairy tale easy reader.
Face Value: This book cover is designed to look like a traditional fairy tale, and it’s an accurate reflection of the story. I had to laugh at the cover of the book I picked up from the library. Even though this story is about Rosamund, the unusually gifted woman who is the only suitable mate for the prince, they slapped a barcode right on top of her face. On the version that I read, Rosamund is not even visible on the cover. The prince and wolf are clearly visible but you cannot even tell that the other character on the cover is a woman, except for a peek of her pink dress at the bottom. It is frustrating to see such careless placement of a barcode.
Does it break the slate? It’s not a slate-smashing book, but there are certainly elements that challenge the typical gender roles that we see in most fairy tales. It is a more Slatebreaking option than most fairy tale and princess-themed stories.
Who would we give it to? Fans of Brave will appreciate the themes of The King’s Equal. I would love to watch a parent read this book with their child and then discuss the gender roles presented within. It’s also a great contrast to traditional fairy tales, so it would be an excellent book to present to any young person studying fairy tales to show them how these types of stories can be written in a way that presents strong and intelligent females. Continue reading
Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. Katherine Tegen Books, 2013. Currently available.
Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Face Value: I like this cover, and it fits the book. It looks young, but I think that this book plays best on the younger end of middle grade anyway, so it will appeal to its audience well. Emily is the focus, of the engaging illustration, the books look exciting and hint at the story. I don’t know what the cat has to do with anything though.
Does it Break the Slate? Emily is well on her way to being a Slatebreaker, and she shows the necessary self-determination to get there. She is absolutely determined to take her life into her own hands and when she breaks free of the “destiny” she thought she was stuck with, it is an outstanding Slatebreaking moment.
Who would we give it to? Literary girls, who will get wrapped up in the romance of a secret in a book of poetry and an adventure to find yourself. If you have a young reader with an interest in poetry (or romance novels, actually), this would be a nice fit. Continue reading
Fat Angie by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo. Candlewick, 2013. Currently available.
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Face Value: I appreciate that the girl’s body on this cover is true to the character. Although it would be even nicer to see a real person as the cover model, this cover is well done – it’s clear and bold, and the many elements floating inside the shape of Angie capture the confusion of her current state. I also want to give some positive credit to the book trailer for Fat Angie. It features live actors who actually look like the characters who are described in the story.
Does it break the slate? By the end of the book it does, but it takes a while to get there. Angie’s family situation is desolate, to the point when any scenes involving her and her mother are painful to read. I hated those scenes because they represented everything awful about the way women embody societal expectations of appearance and behavior and torture themselves into compliance. Angie gradually pulls herself into a place of better self-esteem and self-image – but she still has a lot of naysayers in her life. The book concludes in a Slatebreaking tone, but it is tenuous. I can only hope that Angie has the strength to continue to be a Slatebreaker.
Who would we give it to? The core of Angie’s story is about grief and loss. Readers coping with a traumatic loss may empathize with Angie. It is a dark story, however, and has some potential triggers for self-harmers and those coping with eating disorders. Continue reading
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.
Face Value: I’m mixed on this cover. On the one hand, I find it a little twee, with the girl and the umbrella and the wisps of floating colors on some kind of magical path. On the other hand, the girl is wearing clothes that Madeleine actually wears in the book. Also I am pretty sure I would wear that outfit.
Does it Break the Slate? Absolutely. While feminism not the major focus of the story, the multifaceted female characters lead to a Slatebreaking result. Plus, there’s nothing better than when girl characters turn out to be both smarter and more powerful than others would lead us to believe.
Who would we give it to? This is a good bridge fantasy because it actually includes a healthy bit of contemporary realism. It’s also incredibly clever, with sharp dialogue and a really different kind of fantasy world. If you’ve read and loved Moriarty’s previous books, you might be surprised by the difference, but you definitely won’t be disappointed. Continue reading
Devilish by Maureen Johnson. Razorbill, 2007. Currently available.
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Face Value: Well, it sure is creepy! Those demon eyes are disturbing. The girl on this cover doesn’t look anything like how I picture Jane, Allison, or Lanalee, so I’m not sure who she’s supposed to be. Just another possessed teenage girl, I guess!
Does it break the slate? It does. Although Jane could easily succumb to temptation or take an easy out and leave her friend behind, she always chooses the fight. Jane does not back down, ever.
Who would we give it to? There are a lot of paranormal fiction fans out there reading books that do not feature strong female characters. This book offers a great alternative to those stories. It has the creepy supernatural elements, and there’s some romance as well, but it remains a book about two girls who make powerful, assertive choices when facing demonic opposition. Continue reading
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. Dutton Books, 2013. Currently Available.
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction / Mystery
Face Value: Honestly, it looks like an instagram picture. It doesn’t make me not want to read the book, but nothing about the cover makes me totally ready to dive in either.
Does it Break the Slate? This book starts as one thing and turns into another. And what it turns into, I think, is ultimately Slatebreaking. (could I be more vague? But I can’t spoil anything before the break at least). Women are victimized during this book, but there’s also a real dialogue about what it means that so many 17 year old girls are able to go missing without knowing what happens to them.
Who would we give it to? Readers of contemporary realistic fiction, who are up for some darkness and ambiguity, with a fondness for an unreliable narrator. If you liked Suma’s earlier Imaginary Girls, you’ll like this one too – it walks the same line along the boundaries of reality. Continue reading
Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind by Valerie Hobbs. Frances Foster Books, 2012. Currently available.
Genre: Middle grade realistic fiction.
Face Value: This cover caught my attention from across a room. I was speed-walking through the library to the YA section to pick up something comforting like a Sarah Dessen or Maureen Johnson novel, and this cover stopped me in my tracks. It so clearly conveys empowerment. I love it.
Does it break the slate? Yes! Minnie is on the cusp of adolescence and she is struggling with challenges that any twelve year old would understand. She finds issues that matter to her and she speaks out, despite her extreme discomfort with public expression. There’s also a terrific Slatebreaking teacher character, Miss Marks, a female character who not only breaks the slate but also trains future Slatebreakers.
Who would we give it to? Girls who are afraid of public speaking. Minnie’s struggle with speaking in front of groups is beautifully captured in Hobbs’s writing. Every tremor and cold bead of sweat is reflected in the narrative of Minnie’s self-doubt. Her baby steps toward self-confidence will encourage readers who experience the same fear.