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Beyond Nancy Drew: A Guide to Girls' Literature

Tomboys and Working Girls

  • Parker, Rosa Abbott. Jack of All Trades. Lee and Shepard, 1868.
    A series of short stories about poor but adventurous girls who find success in life.

  • book coverRouse, Adelaide Louise. Annice Wynkoop, Artist: The Perseverance of a Country Girl. New York: A. L. Burt, 1898.
    A country girl struggles against social, class, and family expectations, travelling to the city to become a real artist.

  • Conklin, Jennie M. Drinkwater. Bek's First Corner, a Story for Girls. New York: A. L. Burt, 190-.
    Rebeka has an odd name, a dark complexion, and has recently vowed to "live on earth as in heaven." In every respect, she is an anomaly, out of place in her world. At the start of this novel, she moves into her own home, living alone for the first time.

  • Hyne, Charles John Cutcliffe Wright. Kate Meredith, Financier. New York: The Authors and Newspapers Association, 1906.
    This peculiar piece of juvenile literature is essentially a "boys" adventure story, filled with shipboard adventures, pirates and exotic settings. However, the narrative is spiced with accounts of courtship, and the entrance of female characters who hold their own, both in battle and in life.

  • Abbott, Jane. Aprilly. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1921.
    A girl desperate to leave Boston buys a train ticket to Blossom, Maine, where she finds both independence and romance.

  • Speed, Nell. Molly Brown's College Friends. New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1921.
    Molly Brown, first introduced in Molly Brown of Kentucky, is attending college. Though similar to earlier school-girl novels, Molly Brown deals with the issues relevant to young women pursuing a college education.

  • Hope, Laura Lee. The Blythe Girls: Helen, Margy and Rose; or, Facing the Great World. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1925.
    The three Blythe girls live on their own in New York City. Artistic Helen keeps their little flat, while Mary works as a private secretary after attending business school. Young, plain-spoken Rose takes what she calls a "job" in a department store.

  • Delmar, Viña. Bad Girl. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1928.
    "It does not give an adequate conception of Miss Delmar's novel to say that Dot lived in the Bronx and Eddie in Harlem, that he worked in a radio shop and that she was a typist; or that they met on a Sunday night excursion on the Hudson and loved each other and married. The vital experiences of this young couple and their friends and their emotional reactions are common to thousands of adolescents who live in any one of our great cities. It is a world strange to novel readers, in which the movies, Chinese restaurants, and bare hallways provide the background for love, and seduction the impulse to marry."

  • book coverLawrence, Josephine. Glenna. New York: Cupples and Leon,1929.
    Two orphaned girls make their way in the big city. Cordy is a stenographer supporting her younger sister Glenna, but tragedy strikes when Cordy is hit by a car and hospitalized for weeks.

  • Lavell, Edith. Linda Carlton, Air Pilot. Akron, Ohio: Saalfield, 1931.

  • Lavell, Edith. Linda Carlton's Island Adventure. Akron, Ohio : Saalfield, 1931.
    This 5 volume aviation series was originally published by A.L. Burt, and reprinted by Saalfield. Linda Carlton, an Ameila Earheart-type heroine, has one of the more adventurous occupations to be found in girls' literature. Another title, Linda Carlton's Ocean Flight can be found in Perkins Juvenile Collection.

  • Olds, Helen Diehl. Barbara Benton, Editor. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1932. 
    Nell Benton is the editor of the El Tampa Leader, a small town newspaper. Her 16-year-old daughter Babs follows in her mother's footsteps, writing a column "Breezy Bits by Babs," and helping save the paper from being bought by a chain that would fill the pages with syndicated news instead of local stories. Her hard work is rewarded by being named co-editor.

  • Bugbee, Emma. Peggy Covers the News. New York, Dodd, Mead & Co. 1936.
    This series is a subset of the publisher's Career Book Series and ran 1936-1945. Peggy Foster is a young journalist who travels the globe searching for the big scoop. Check the online catalog for other titles in this series.

  • Clayton, Barbara. Tomboy. New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1941.
    "Appropriately nicknamed Gabby, she is the direct opposite of Adrian, her more serious, music-minded brother and confidante. Gabby strongly resists her parents' efforts to persuade her that she must give up her tomboyish ways and turn into a proper young lady."

  • Lambert, Janet. Candy Kane. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1943.
    "Candy wasn't as pretty as her sister Leigh, but she had a wistful little combination of something else in her make-up that made people love her and trust her and want her to be around." the Rubenstein Library has two other titles in this series: Star Spangled Summer and Whoa, Matilda!

  • Snell, Roy J. Norma Kent of the WACS. Fighters for freedom series. Racine, Wis.: Whitman Pub. Co., 1943.

  • Snell, Roy J. Sally Scott of the WAVES. Fighters for freedom series. Racine, Wis.: Whitman Pub. Co., 1943.
    A product of the Second World War, this eight-book series by four different authors consists of unrelated tales about brave young women in the armed forces.

  • book coverFaulkner, Georgene and John Becker. Melindy's Medal. New York: J. Messner, [c1945].
    This book deals with an African-American girl who wins a medal for her bravery.

  • Radford, Ruby L. Sylvia Sanders and the Tangled Web: The Story of a Girl's Struggle for a Radio Career. Racine: Whitman Publishing, 1946.
    "A career in Chicago on the radio is the ambition of Sylvia Sanders, a young girl from a small southern town?. She solves the Mystery of Crow's Nest and achieves her goal."

  • Walden, Amelia Elizabeth. A Girl Called Hank. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1951.
    When Henrietta is born, her four older brothers are disappointed to not have another boy to round out their basketball team. Luckily "Hank" is good at sports.

  • Hancock, Frances Dean. Beth Terry, Beauty Editor. New York: Avalon Books, 1957.
    "There were two food editors at Fashion World ? three fashion editors ? but there was only one beauty editor-blue-eyed, black-haired, Beth Terry."

  • Cone, Molly. The Trouble with Toby. Houghton Mifflin, c1961.
    Toby just wants to fit in with the other high school girls. The book deals with teenagers, social pressure and conformity. On the front panel of the dust jacket, Toby sits morosely on her bed next to her school books.

  • Clayton, Barbara. Halfway Hannah. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1964.
    "Shy, sensitive Hannah-Jo Hanson, a motherless Southern girl, is desolate when her non-conformist father accepts the chairmanship of the history department at a little-known college in the small town of Alps Junction in Vermont's ski country."

Lollipop Power, Inc.

During the 70s and early 80s, Lollipop Power, Inc. published children's books, including bilingual books, that portrayed non-sexist and non-stereotypical role models to empower and instruct children in very diverse life situations. The Rubenstein Library holds books published by Lollipop Power, Inc., as well as archival material in the records of Carolina Wren Press, which took over the organization's remaining books and reiussed several of its titles after Lollipop Power, Inc. ceased operations in 1986. Additional records of Lollipop Power, Inc., are held at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • Phillips, Lynn. Exactly Like Me. Chapel Hill, N. C.: Lollipop Power, 1972.
    "Some people don't know what a girl's all about. I wonder how come they can't figure it out?" This young girl understands that she doesn't have to wear frilly dresses to be a girl.
  • De Poix, Carol. Jo, Flo and Yolanda. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Lollipop Power, Inc., 1973.
    Jo, Flo, and Yolanda live in the city and have parents who both work outside the home. These triplets may look alike, but they have very different dreams.
  • Homan, Dianne. In Christina's Toolbox. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Lollipop Power, c1981.
    Christina is a capable girl with a toolbox full of tools to help out around the house, make things, and fix her bike.
  • Severance, Jane. Lots of Mommies. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Lollipop Power, 1983.
    A girl lives in a house with her mother and three other women. When she starts school other children ridicule her when she tells them she has four moms. But when she hurts herself on the playground, all four mommies come to her aid, and the other children are jealous of all the motherly attention.


  • Book Cover: Girls' Book of HeroinesMichael, Charles D. Heroines: True Tales of Brave Women. London: S. W. Partridge, [19--].
    "Bravery and self-sacrifice are natural qualities in men, or so we love to think; but men have no monopoly of heroism. In their capacity for suffering uncomplainingly, and in their power of patient endurance, women are, as a matter of fact more heroic by nature than men."

  • Parkman, Mary Rosetta. Heroines of Service. New York, Century, 1917.
    Features famous and lesser known women including: Mary Lyon, Clara Barton, Frances Willard, Julia Ward Howe, Mary Antin, Alice C. Fletcher, Mary Slessor of Calabar, Madame Marie Curie, and Jane Addams.

  • Groom, Arthur. The Girls' Book of Heroines. London: Birn Brothers, Ltd., 1952.
    Among heroines of the First and Second World Wars and prominent sports figures of the day, we find such unlikely heroines as Marie Antoinette, Madame Toussaud (of wax museum fame), and a "present-day heroine - the Air Hostess."

  • Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Empty Schoolhouse. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
    Though they are friends at church on Sundays, Oralee (a white girl) and Lullah (a "colored" girl) must attend separate schools. When the Archbishop desegregates the parochial schools, Lullah is thrust into the front lines of the civil rights movement.

  • Weldon, Amelie. Girls Who Rocked the World. Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Publishing, 1998.
    "While our current history books are giving more credit to women from the past, it is equally important that you, today's girls, know that you can make your own impact on the history books of tomorrow."