The Strong Female Character, a guest post by author Lauren Magaziner
When I was a kid, I was told—on more than one occasion—that I was a little “too much.”
What that meant changed in the eye of the beholder. An acquaintance once told me I was too enthusiastic about things—that I needed to be more chill. A friend said I was always trying too hard to be funny, and I should stop. An educator once told my parents that I was too much of an overachiever, and I needed to pull back.
By the time I was a teen, I started to wonder if I was too academic, too anxious, too impatient, too passionate, too bold, too weird.
I know I’m not alone in these experiences; that’s how so many girls grow up. We start with BIG personalities and BIG dreams. Over time, we’re slowly conditioned to fit in with peers, to be acceptable. We’re asked not to stand out so much. In short, we’re taught to shrink.
I wrote The Mythics with the opposite goal: to have a group of five very different girls who are unapologetically, unflinchingly themselves with friendships that are wholeheartedly supportive. Each character in the friend group is compassionate and encouraging to the others, even if they are divergent in disposition. And no one will ever tell our girl gang to shrink.
I believe that good self-esteem is something that ultimately comes from within. But there are external tools to help bolster confidence. For me, supportive environments, positive reinforcement, and imaginative space (like books!) were the key to cultivating my own inner strength. And I started this series with the hope that this could be another one of those tools of both escapism and positive modeling.
I want young readers to know that strength does not have to be something physical, hard-edged, or cutthroat. Instead, strength could come from anywhere: from kindness, from courage, from resilience, from intellect, from humor, from enthusiasm, from trust, and from hope.
In The Mythics series, the five main characters—Marina, Ember, Hailey, Kit, and Pippa—are given a quest: to find their mythical beast animal familiars and save the world from a mysterious evil villain. Each book will be narrated by a different character, introducing you to her unique backstory, voice, and spirit.
The first book is out now, with stunning illustrations by Mirelle Ortega. Mirelle’s art is so full of energy and warmth. Or, if you prefer audiobook, Marina’s voice is brought to life by Gail Shalan, who so deftly captures the humor and the heart of the story.
And even though the first book just dropped, as it goes with the publishing industry, I’m actually halfway through writing this five-book series (burning with the secrets of all the twists to come). Now that I’ve drafted three out of five of the main characters’ perspectives, I must admit: I am loving working on the middle grade series that I so needed as a young girl.
But with an action-packed plot, unique and intricate world-building, peril at every page-turn, and mythical beasts (like a kraken, a unicorn, a dragon, a kitsune, and a phoenix), I hope this series appeals to all young readers of every gender.
I’m so proud of everything in this book . . . especially the loveable characters. But it’s important to note that Marina, Ember, Hailey, Kit, and Pippa are not endearing despite their flaws. Instead, their flaws are a symptom of their greatest strengths. Marina’s anxiety is a result of her robust imagination and academic intelligence. Ember’s enthusiasm shows she cares deeply. Hailey is constantly impatient because she is fearless and courageous—always ready to conquer danger. Pippa’s quiet means that she listens and has space to intuit others’ feelings. Kit’s sarcasm is her way of diffusing tension when their save-the-world mission inevitably gets stressful.
Together, they show all the qualities I was told to subdue.
Are they perfectly imperfect? Always.
Are they “too much?” Absolutely never.
Meet Author Lauren Magaziner
Lauren Magaziner is the author of the Case Closed series, Wizardmatch, Pilfer Academy, and The Only Thing Worse than Witches. She is originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania, and she currently lives in Philadelphia, where she writes full-time. On Lauren’s Pairing Day, she bonded with her purrfect familiar: a warm, cuddly, and charmingly cantankerous cat. You can visit Lauren at www.laurenmagaziner.com.
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The Mythics landing page with HarperCollins:
About THE MISFITS
From Case Closed author Lauren Magaziner and artist Mirelle Ortega comes the first book in a new highly illustrated middle grade fantasy series. Full of action, adventure, and friendship, a team of five girls must stop a powerful villain by finding their mythical familiars.
It’s Pairing Day in Terrafamiliar! Marina has been waiting for this moment—anxiously—for as long as she can remember. Because today’s the day she gets to bond with her animal familiar for life, like every other ten-year-old in the land.
Except after the ceremony ends, Marina doesn’t have one. And she’s not alone . . . four other girls also didn’t get their animal companions. The leaders of Terrafamiliar realize something special is happening: Marina and the other four girls—Kit, Ember, Pippa, and Hailey—are called Mythics
In times of unrest, the Mythics must earn their Mythies—mythical beasts—in quests of courage. But danger lurks everywhere as there are others seeking this mysterious power. And only the Mythics can save Terrafamiliar!
Filed under: new books
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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