Hardly Helpless Young Ladies
Damsels in Distress – Not Necessarily In Need of Rescue
Alchemy and Meggy Swann / Karen Cushman; read by Katherine Kellgren
“Holding his side, Roger said, “You Mistress Margaret, are passing skilled at this matter of insults, you milk-livered minnow.”
“I grew up in an alehouse, you wart-necked mammering clap dish.”
When her beloved granny died, Margaret Swann is informed by her mother that her father has sent for her, and she’s to go live with him in London. Meggy is shocked; she never knew that she had a father. Well, she knew that she must have had a father because everyone has or had one, but never in her thirteen years has her mother mentioned him to her. So she arrives in London with her only friend: her pet goose Louise. Louise has a sprung wing and cannot fly, just as Meggy has crooked legs and cannot walk. Using two walking sticks she can lurch forward from side to side painfully dragging her legs along with her, but she doesn’t call it walking; she calls it “wabbling.”
London, when she arrives in 1573, does not impress her. It’s crowded, it’s noisy, it’s filthy, it stinks, and they have dead men’s heads hung on their bridge! “Ye toads and vipers!” she exclaims upon arrival at her father’s house at the Sign of the Sun on Crooked Lane. Insult is added to injury when her father, Master Ambrose the Alchemist expresses his disappointment that she is not a son, wonders aloud if she is a crackbrain, and then walks away from her upstairs into his attic room. The only civil person she meets that day is Roger Oldham, Master Ambrose’s assistant, a boy of about her own age, who is delighted to have just found a new job as a player with a troop of actors. Eventually Roger and Meggy will become friends and verbal sparring partners, but now with Roger leaving and her father—Master Peevish—as she thinks of him, obsessed with finding the secret of immortality, Meggy must find a way to care for herself in this challenging new world.
Goth Girl Rising / Barry Lyga
Kyra Sellers, Goth Girl of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl is back from her stay at the Maryland Mental Health Unit, sent there, she discovers, because of her condition: a severe case of DCHH, Daddy Couldn't Handle Her. Her mom went to the hospital and died, but Kyra figures she’s tougher than her mom. So watch out people at South Brook High. Kyra swings between sad and angry. Sad is hopeless, powerless and confusing, but anger, anger gives you the power to do something and a target to hit. She knows her father Roger and the teachers are after her. She’s not sure about her friends Jecca (formerly known as Jessica) and Simone. And then there’s Fanboy; she could talk to Fanboy and things felt better. But Fanboy betrayed her. He called her father and told Roger that she had a bullet. And then for the six months she was locked in DCHH he never called her, never sent an e-mail—just like Jecca didn’t. Well,
“Eff all them."
"And eff him too."
"Who said he could be happy? Who said he could just forget about me?”
Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber / L.A. Meyer; read by Katherine Kellgren
Arriving back in London decked out as a fine lady, Jacky Faber, former street urchin and naval veteran, goes to call on her sweetheart Jaimy Fletcher. She receives a rude welcome from his mother, who’s read about Jacky in a book written by her friend from the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls in Boston. It’s titled Bloody Jack. Undaunted by her reception and hearing that Jamie is to attend a race, Jacky disguises herself as a jockey to get into the track. Unfortunately, being disguised as a man, she’s taken by a press gang, and soon finds herself back in the Royal Navy and on blockade duty off the coast of France. Worse than that, the Wolverine is a hell ship governed by a vicious and dishonest captain, who has dishonorable designs on Midshipman Faber.
But the Captains designs take an unexpected turn, after promoting her to lieutenant, and hustling her into his cabin, he expires. And Jacky muses on her fate. “Later, as I sit on the floor, eating the Captain’s food and drinking his wine, I think on the nature of things. I’m munching away, not thinking it overly strange to be eating and soon preparing to sleep in a room that also contains a new corpse. Plus, I find him a much more charming companion in his current condition, anyway.”
“Then it hits me….”
“And it hits me with the force of a blow. I am maybe fifteen years old. I am a girl. I am also an acting lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and, by the Naval Rules and Regulations as regards the chain of command, I am in command of His Majesty’s Ship Wolverine.”