Yesterday, on January 21st, the #womensmarch took place in locations around the world and it was awe-inspiring. It will be an event to remember after a tumultuous and tempestuous year. To let us know that we can and will stand together.
Last night, people were talking about #womenwhoinspiredme. One thing became very clear in all the discussions. Women are awesome. And awesome women come from awesome girls. That got us here at Sci-fi and Scary thinking about all the great female characters in horror written for kids. The girls in these stories are strong, smart and resourceful. Because kick-ass little girls grow up into kick-ass women.
Lilyn had her turn with talking about her Favorite Nasty Women of Sci-Fi, but now it’s my turn. (Psst: covers link to Goodreads.)
Gutsy Girls Become Fearless Females
Girl Leads in Kids’ Horror
Age Range: 6-10
The Witches of Hopper Street – Linda Gondosch
Kelly and two friends form a secret society of witches to cast a spell on snooty Rae Jean’s Halloween party–to which they were not invited. But all’s well that ends well when a final attempt to crash the party yields Kelly a first kiss, and a better understanding of the unhappy Rae Jean.
The Secret of Pony Pass – Mary Gervaise
The friends set out for a riding holiday in Wales, but when they arrive things start to go wrong: and they see the ghost of Pony Pass.
(This was one of my favorite stories when I was younger. It combined my two favorite things, ghosts and horses, into one: a ghost horse. How could I not love it?)
Age Range: 8-11
The Dollhouse Murders – Betty Ren Wright
Twelve-year-old Amy is having difficulties at home being responsible for her brain-damaged sister, Louann. While visiting her Aunt Clare at the old family home, she discovers an eerily-haunted dollhouse in the attic -an exact replica of the family home. Whenever she sees it, the dolls, representing her relatives, have moved. Her aunt won’t listen to Amy’s claims that the dolls are trying to tell her something. This leads Amy to research old news reports where she discovers a family secret -the murder of her grandparents. The two sisters unravel the mystery. Amy grows to accept her sister and to understand that Louann is more capable than she had first thought.
Ghosts Beneath Our Feet – Betty Ren Wright
Katie believed that spending the summer in a quiet little town would be really cool. There’d be new kids to meet and lots of places to explore. But Katie’s dream summer quickly turns into a nightmare. The quite little town is practically deserted, and the local kids don’t seem too friendly.
Betty Ren Wright writes numerous ghost stories with girls in their lower to mid-teens. The stories tend to happen around the girls as they’re going through other major life changes. The girls usually display good strength of character but not to an unrealistic degree. In other words, the girls are very human. I have linked the author’s name to her Goodreads page if you’re interested in looking at her other works.
The Witch Series – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Witch series begins with the book Witch’s Sister. Lynn and her friend Mouse are the central characters in the series. I liked Lynn a lot. She’s loyal, protective and intelligent. The character of Mouse I kind of went back and forth on.
#1: Witch’s Sister
When the darkness,
tolls the hour,
I shall have you
in my power…
Lynn and her best friend, Mouse, are positive their neighbor, Mrs. Tuggle, is a witch. And they suspect the old woman is forcing Lynn’s sister, Judith, to join her coven to witches. But Lynn and Mouse can’t prove anything and their parents don’t believe them. the girls are desperate to expose Mrs. Tuggle’s evil nature, especially since her actions are becoming more threatening every day.
Now Lynn’s parents have announced that they’re going away for the weekend, leaving Judith and Mrs. Tuggle in charge. Can the girls outsmart Mrs. Tuggle and save Lynn’s family — or is the dark magic too strong to conquer?
Other Books in the Series:
The Nina Tanleven Series
The Nine Tanleven series revolves around Nina (Nine) and her friend Chris. I loved Nine and Chris together. The book series balances humor, spookiness , and action.
The Ghost in the Third Row – Bruce Coville
The Stage is Set…For a Ghostly Scene!
For sixth-grader Nina Tanleven, trying out for a part in a play is pretty scary. But nothing can compare to seeing a ghost, a woman in white, sitting in the audience! Nina senses that she has nothing to fear from this apparition, but she is intrigued. Nina learns that fifty years ago, a beautiful actress was murdered–on this very stage! According to legend, she has haunted the theater ever since….
Strange things begin to happen—scripts are ripped up, sets are knocked down, a costume is torn to pieces–and everyone thinks that the ghost wants to stop the show from going on. Everyone, that is, except for Nina and her best friend, Chris, who decide to do some ghost hunting of their own. But only the Woman in White can lead them to the answer.
Other Books in the Series:
The Witches of Worm – Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Jessica has read enough books to know that her cat Worm must be a witch’s cat. He’s cast a spell on her, but to whom can she turn? After all, no one will believe that Worm has bewitched her . . . or worse.
Age Range: 10-12
Wait Till Helen Comes – Mary Downing Hahn
Beware of Helen…
Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.
But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home — a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watch her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…
The Old Willis Place – Mary Downing Hahn
Diana and her little brother Georgie have been living in the woods behind the old Willis place, a decaying Victorian mansion, for what already seems like forever. They aren’t allowed to leave the property or show themselves to anyone. But when a new caretaker comes to live there with his young daughter, Lissa, Diana is tempted to break the mysterious rules they live by and reveal herself so she can finally have a friend. Somehow, Diana must get Lissa’s help if she and Georgie ever hope to release themselves from the secret that has bound them to the old Willis place for so lon
Mary Downing Hahn is the author of numerous ghost stories. Her main characters are primarily girls in their early teens who are typically strong, intelligent characters. Sometimes there are siblings but the stories are usually told through the eyes of the girl. Wait Till Helen Comes and The Old Willis Place are two of her more well-known ones. I have linked the author’s name to her Goodreads page if you’re interested in looking at some of her other works.
Age Range 10-13
Stonewords: A Ghost Story – Pam Conrad
The first time Zoe met Zoe Louise, Zoe was four years old. Zoe Louise was more than 100. From that day on — living in the same house, separated by a staircase and a century — Zoe and Zoe Louise have been an important and permanent part of each other’s lives.
Now Zoe is older. And although Zoe Louise never grows up, she is changing in dreadful, frightening ways. Time is running out for Zoe’s best friend — and Zoe is the only one who can help her. To do so, she must travel back 100 years in time and somehow alter the past. But in changing the past, must she also change the present? If she saves her friend’s life, will she lose Zoe Louise forever?
Age Range: 10-13
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
This is a sci-fi series with Meg as the main character for the first book. She is a major character in the rest of the series as well, except for Many Waters.
Age Range: 12 and Up
Sweet Miss Honeywell’s Revenge – Kathryn Reiss
Zibby Thorne doesn’t know what possessed her to buy an antique dollhouse–she doesn’t even like dolls. But when her friends and family start having bizarre accidents clearly connected to the dollhouse, she can’t ignore the menacing structure any longer.
Zibby is sure that one particularly creepy doll in a gray dress is somehow responsible for the trouble. She discovers the doll is controlled by the spirit of “sweet” Miss Honeywell, a vengeful governess who seeks to control Zibby and her friends from beyond the grave. They must find a way to stop Miss Honeywell before her wrath becomes deadly.
Z for Zachariah – Robert C. O’Brien
Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. For the past year, she has lived in a remote valley with no evidence of any other survivors.
(About the horrors of surviving a nuclear apocalypse rather than the supernatural. The main character is strong and survives it well.)
More and more I’m noticing that the age group between 6 and 10 seem to get left out of the spooky goodness that is going around. If you’re looking for some good, clean creepiness I highly recommend the above books. I still read them from time to time. I may have advanced beyond them long ago but some of them were my first reading pleasures. I will always thank my mother for pushing me to read at a young age and I hope people will continue to push their kids.
Our technology may someday surpass the written word but I can’t believe that it will ever fade away entirely.
What are your favorite examples of kick-ass gutsy girls in kids horror?