Alternatives to Tamora Pierce?
October 28, 2014 9:34 PM   Subscribe

My 9 year old girl is obsessed with Tamora Pierce books. What are some other books she might like equally as well?

Pretty much if it doesn't have a girl protagonist, she's not interested. I think she's read everything by Tamora Pierce except the last couple after the Circle Opens series, but she prefers Tortall.

She likes the Tiffany Aching books a lot also. For a while it was all about the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Middle grades or young adult are good, but I'm not so wild about lots of sex or lots of bad stuff happening. We've not tried Hunger Games yet (in part because I read the Gregor books, and found them a little upsetting, and I've heard that bad things happen in the Hunger Games. She didn't mind them, though.).

For whatever reason, she's not read the Harry Potter books.

She was Daine the WildMage last year for Halloween, and this year she's Queen Thayet.
posted by leahwrenn to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I was also a total freak for the Alanna series as a kid and I LOVED Wise Child and its prequel Juniper.

Less directly medieval, but for excellent girl protagonists, get thee (& her) to Madeleine L'Engle.
posted by kelseyq at 9:53 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Diane Duane, Robin McKinley.
posted by Violet Hour at 9:55 PM on October 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Duane, for sure.

Garth Nix, Keys of the Kingdom---Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, and possibly a new one?

Diane Wynne Jones too. Howl's Moving Castle. The Chrestomanci books for a bit later, perhaps.
posted by bonehead at 10:15 PM on October 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I loooooved Tamora Pierce, so hopefully I can help...

Ronia the Robber's Daughter. Badass fearless adventurer girl with a good heart.

The Moorchild. Switched-at-birth fairy girl who doesn't fit in with her human family.

Ella Enchanted. Girl is given a terribly fairy godmother blessing to always obey, and struggles against it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:16 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (girl protagonist, dragons, music!)
Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (though I might hold off on these until she's a little older, they have some upsetting themes)
posted by wsquared at 10:17 PM on October 28, 2014

Less fantasy and more history:

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Basically if Elizabeth from Pirates of the Carribean got her own book.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:20 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Diana Wynne Jones. Howl's Moving Castle, Tale of Time City, several of the Chrestomanci books, and several others have female protagonists.

Robin McKinley writes for a big age range, but aside from Sunshine and Deerskin (especially Deerskin!) I think most of her work is pretty nine-year-old appropriate.

Catwings, by Ursula Le Guin.

Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith.

The Wizard's Map (& sequels?), by Jane Yolen. Most of her other books are aimed a little older, or at adults.

Lloyd Alexander has a ton of books for that age, but many of them are in the hapless boy protagonist + badass girl secondary character setup; as a girl-favoring kid reader that was fine by me, but ymmv. Gypsy Rizka has a female protagonist; so do the Vesper Holly books (which are quite action adventure), though I think they are narrated by her easily scandalized guardian (uncle?).

Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I think this is actually part of an alternate history series or something, but as a child I didn't know enough actual history to register that, and it still worked pretty well.

Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse (which is reasonably easy to find; I think it was reprinted recently because JK Rowling said that it was her favorite book as a child) and Linnets and Valerians (which is much more difficult).

Edgar Eager has a lot of warmly whimsical children's books; I particularly remember Half Magic, about the adventures of three sisters and their brother who find a charm which grants half of any wish.

Hilary McKay's Casson Family series are not fantasy, but might appeal to the same sort of demographic; they're another series on the cheerful misadventures of a bunch of sisters and their brother.
posted by elanid at 10:37 PM on October 28, 2014

Mercedes Lackey Collegium Chronicles series and several others.
posted by irisclara at 10:37 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anne of Green Gables. Little Women. Little House on the Prairie et al. Little Princess. Secret Garden.

In the SFF realm, lots of favorites above, but Princess Academy by Shannon Hale hasn't been mentioned yet. And everything Jane Yolen.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:05 PM on October 28, 2014

Diane Duane's series is Young Wizards, which I loved and highly recommend.

Edward Eager and E. Nesbit.... and anything Amazon lists under "also bought".
My mom adds: The Princess and the Goblin, A Wrinkle in Time, and Enid Blyton.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:25 PM on October 28, 2014

Yes yes Robin McKinley- specifically The Hero and the Crown, and if she likes that The Blue Sword
posted by charmedimsure at 11:44 PM on October 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also maybe The Girl With the Silver Eyes, pretty much any Zilpha Keatley Snider (googling told me she died this month and now what is left in my soul of 11 year old charmedimsure is mourning), When You Reach Me and for now JUST the first book in Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy, Dragonsong. And The Westing Game (not sf/fantasy but trust me).
posted by charmedimsure at 11:59 PM on October 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

The True Meaning of Smekday is about a girl who's got to save her mom, the world, and another alien race. It's getting released as an animated film, called Home, in Spring 2015.
posted by spunweb at 3:09 AM on October 29, 2014

Joan Aiken!
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:15 AM on October 29, 2014

The City, Not Long After: a flu destroys the world, leaving few survivors. When the narrators mom is attacked, the narrator escapes to warn the city of San Francisco, which is the attacking army's next target. I also recommend Nadya by the same author, which is about two girls who are heading West with their families. A combo of weather and human violence leaves them relying on each other. Also one's a werewolf, who might be falling in love with her new Oregon Trail bff.
posted by spunweb at 4:27 AM on October 29, 2014

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
posted by spunweb at 4:28 AM on October 29, 2014

The Adventures of Bloody Jack: a series about an 18th century girl who pretends to be a boy to work on a ship. It's long running and she sees the world.
posted by spunweb at 4:29 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sassinak and the Death of Sleep are really interesting-- lots of space travel and both are narrated by career women (tho Sass is a soldier and the narrator of Death is a doctor, I think)
posted by spunweb at 4:29 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Diane Duane's Young Wizards series - I started reading them as a middle school kid in the 80s who had also read Tamora Pierce, and I still reread them now. (And she's just announced a publication date for the next book)

One note - she recently came out with new "Millennium Edition" versions of the books. Since the books were written so many years apart, and computers feature significantly in book 3, she went back and updated some of the tech references and continuity glitches which crept in over the decades. I still like the original versions for nostalgia, but a modern-day kid would probably prefer the revised editions. She runs frequent sales on her ebooksdirect page, I think every other site just has the original editions.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:32 AM on October 29, 2014

LJ Smith wrote the original Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. She has a long running series NightWorld which is fun, but my fave of hers center Morgan Le Fay. The first in that series is Night of the Solstice.
Also: while I loved How I Live Now, and think it's one of the better coming of age stories out there, Daisy falls in love with her cousin Edmund and they totally do it. Their love for each other is a pretty major lot point. However the book is SO good; it's so rare you get a teen girl narrator who isn't a warrior and isn't naturally loving emerge do sympathetically. She gets herself and her 7 yr girl cousin through the frontlines of WW3 by sheer force of will.
posted by spunweb at 4:33 AM on October 29, 2014

A Wrinkle in Time!
posted by Mouse Army at 5:50 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding Garth Nix's Abhorsen series (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen plus the new one I haven't gotten my mitts on yet), but adding a caution that although I read them around the age of ten, there are definitely some grody undead thingums ever present and some ten year olds aren't into that.

If she hasn't read any Diana Wynne Jones, The Dark Lord of Derkholm has some amazing lady characters and the SEQUEL (The Year of the Griffin) has a female protagonist who is also a griffin. Nancy Farmer has a trilogy about vikings/druids/pre-Christian Britain that starts with Sea of Trolls, though she'd have to wait a few chapters to get to the Viking warrior girl who is the secondary protagonist. Peter Beagle's Tamsin is a ghost story set in 16th century English manor with a girl lead and her amazing cat; Pat O'Shea's The Hounds of Morrigan is an epic battle between the Celtic gods in modern day Ireland with a brother-sister child lead.

Catherine Called Birdy isn't fantasy but is AMAZING and may soon have a movie attached?
posted by theweasel at 7:04 AM on October 29, 2014

The Lunar Chronicles: Scarlet, Cinder and Cress by Marissa Meyer
Legend: Legend, Prodigy and Champion by Marie Lu
posted by soelo at 7:14 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many good suggestions already - I enjoyed/enjoy Tamora Pierce's books enough I'll probably read a bunch of these.

Anne McCaffrey's "Ship Who" series has female protagonists doing cool things with love but not sex. Although to be honest I started reading Pern books in 4th grade (with the excellent Dragonsong as recommended above) and the sex parts went so far over my head I didn't even realize until years later when it was pointed out on a MeFi comment.

Elizabeth Moon's Esmay Suiza series is an enjoyable read, as is Vatta's War - both are military scifi with competent female protagonists. Stay away from the Paksennarion books until she's older.

I just read and would recommend David Weber's YA series featuring Stephanie Harrington, a no-nonsense 11-to-17-year-old who discovers the first treecats. The series begins with A Beautiful Friendship.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:26 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Impulse. Cent is an amazing, kick-ass protagonist and it's a great story. There is a tiny bit of romance and some kissing.

This book can absolutely be read stand-alone, and in fact I didn't read the two previous books until after I'd read this one. They have different protagonists I didn't enjoy half as much; this novel is the best of the bunch.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:26 AM on October 29, 2014

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder - I had (have!) similar taste in books as your daughter, and I adored this one.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:33 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also highly recommend Robin McKinley, but only the young adult stuff. The adult stuff is great too, but gets into adult topics that kids might be ready for yet. I especially loved The Blue Sword and The Hero and The Crown, which takes place before The Blue Sword but was written afterward. So I would actually recommend reading The Blue Sword first.

And of course Lloyd Alexander and Madeleine L'Engle and all the others that others have recommend. (Edward Eager was also a favorite of mine, but I think is at a significantly easier reading level than the Alanna series, IIRC.)
posted by ethidda at 10:05 AM on October 29, 2014

If she liked the Enchanted Forest books, she might also like "The Ordinary Princess" by MM Kaye. Fairy godmother "curses" baby princess to be "ordinary" (i.e. mouse brown hair, freckles, turned up nose), so while her beauuuuuuutiful sisters are forced to brush their long golden hair for hours on end she gets to run around in the forest and be awesome. Also she runs away and gets a job.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:08 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Has she read "A Wrinkle in Time" yet? Meg Murry was basically my female hero for most of my childhood, and I had really similar tastes in books to your daughter when I was her age.
posted by augustimagination at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2014

I loved Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small series, which she should read if she hasn't yet, and also Mercedes Lackey's Tale of 1000 Kingdoms is really fun and very good! It's along a similar vein. Lots of great female characters, YA, mostly tame, but there's a bit of romance, since they're based on subverting fairy tales and the like. Elena the godmother is a wonderful character and I adore her to bits. She's the heroine of the first book.
posted by PearlRose at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2014

Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment is great, with a strong young female protagonist. Might be a bit of a stretch for a 9 year old, but if she likes the Tiffany Aching books, then I think she could hack it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:42 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about Adeline Yen Mah's books written for a younger audience? She has a few about a kung fu young woman and her friends.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2014

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