Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Today, ten of our fabulous Middle Grade Strikes Back contributors have each chosen their favourite heroine from a middle grade book:
1. Abi Elphinstone: Lyra Belacqua from Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
When I was twelve, most of my girl friends at school wanted to be Kylie Minogue. I, on the other hand, wanted to be Lyra Belacqua. She breaks rules, avoids homework, answers back to adults, becomes pals with Gyptians, has a gorgeous daemon called Pantalaimon - and, as if that's not enough, she befriends an 'outcast' bear and learns to read an alethiometer. Take that, Kylie.
2. Jim Dean: Kat Stephenson from The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson series by Stephanie Burgis
From the first sentence I read about Kat - in which she chops off her hair, dresses as a boy, and tries to run away to save her family from impending ruin - I knew she was a really special character. Over the course of the trilogy of novels following her as she juggles her heritage as a witch and a Guardian with trying to help her older sisters marry their true loves, she became my all-time favourite. Loyal to her family, clever, quick-witted, and altogether wonderful, she is stunning to read about. Her unexpected reappearance as a debutante in last year's Courting Magic, a novella, was a highlight of 2014 for me.
3. Aoife Walsh: Kizzy Lovell from The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden
Kizzy is a diddakoi, which means she's half-gypsy, half-not. The book's heartbreaking until it becomes uplifting. Kizzy's rejected by more or less everyone and especially at school where she's too different - one of the bullying episodes is so violent it would have stayed with me since I was eight even if I hadn't reread the book fifty million times. She's tough and angry and unreasonable, and one of the most lovable heroines ever.
4. Stacey: Matilda by Roald Dahl
I only read Matilda for the first time in 2013, but she quickly became one of my favourite heriones. Which booklover – young or old – doesn't see themselves in Matilda? She's quiet yet confident. She's incredibly intelligent and independent, and of course bookish in the best possible way. Matilda paved the way for me to delve into middle grade novels; I wanted to read more about these amazing, talented children and their magical adventures.
5. Elen Caldecott: Hermione from the Harry Potter series
First, for anyone who says HP is YA, not MG - it's not, get over it. Second, I also have to say that I lovelovelove Daniel Dalton's buzzfeed reworking of the series (WARNING: link not entirely child-friendly, unless your child is a bit sweary). Hermione is the brains of the operation, she saves the boy wizard countless times. As Daniel says, without Hermione, The Boy Who Lived would be dead as...sugar. She's brave, bright, brilliant. A heroine we all want to be. #TeamHermione
6. Tamsin Cooke: Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Annabeth Chase is half god, half mortal. Being the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, means she's incredibly clever and logical. Not only that, she's unswervingly loyal and brave. She knows how to fight, and is stubborn and sassy. If I had to fight monsters, I'd want her by my side.
7. Piers Torday: Claudia in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiller by E.L. Konigsburg
Thanks to an American pal I've been catching up on so many wonderful MG classics from across the pond that never reached me as a child. And Claudia Kincaid is my kind of heroine. She runs away from home - to a "large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place and preferably a beautiful place." So ends up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, naturally! Along with her nine year old brother she ends up solving an ancient art history mystery. Claudia proves herself much smarter than many adults in this story, and gets her just reward.
8. Kirsty Connor: Darcy Burdock from Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill
You can't help but love Darcy. She is mischievious and funny and I love her take on the world. I love that she has a pet Lam called Lamb Beth and seeing their relationship. I love how creative she is in her own don't care approach focusing on doing what she wants rather than what others think. However more than anything I love how really kind she is to others around her and how fierce she becomes about those around her who she thinks are cruel and nasty
9. Julia Lee: Dido Twite from Black Hearts In Battersea and more by Joan Aiken
Sarky, sneaky, scruffy and jam-stained, anti-heroine Dido only just manages to show her shining qualities by the end of this book but was too good a character for Aiken to abandon. Dido rebounds triumphant - and just as quirky - in Nightbirds In Nantucket and further adventures. She's one of the few poor/working-class heroines I can think of - though most her her family's work is hardly legal! A total joy.
10. Sophie Cleverly: Tiffany Aching from the Tiffany books (part of Discworld) by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching is a precocious and book-smart young girl, the daughter of a family of shepherds, who is discovered to have potential witching talent. Her drive, determination, ability to take charge of almost any situation and to question her own thoughts make her the ideal witch. She chases the Queen of the Elves through fairyland (armed only with a frying pan) to save her little brother, has her mind possessed by a terrible creature called a hiver and even dances with the Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett was once praised by a group of Brownies for writing "a real nine-year-old girl", and I couldn't agree more. Tiffany is flawed, clever, funny and the perfect heroine.