The best quirky fantasies with feisty “take charge” girls

Who am I?

I write books about feisty girls who follow their dreams and don’t let fear stand in their way. Growing up in London I was an extremely shy child with a full-blown fantasy life, but at eighteen decided it was time to channel my inner “feisty girl”, take charge of my destiny, and travel to America to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Now, many years later I am the proud author of five middle-grade novels, and the mother of four amazing children who are all off following their own dreams. When I’m not writing books about feisty girls, I’m reading other people's. Here are some of my favorites.

I wrote...

The Courage of Cat Campbell (Poppy Pendle)

By Natasha Lowe,

Book cover of The Courage of Cat Campbell (Poppy Pendle)

What is my book about?

The one thing Cat Campbell wants more than anything is the one thing she can’t have – magic. That is until the day Cat discovers she has indeed inherited her mother’s magic gene. But as a ‘late bloomer’ witch Cat’s magic is difficult to control and not only does she have to battle with spells going wrong, she also has to face the disapproval of her mother, who gave up magic long ago and wants nothing to do with it. When the town of Potts Bottom is turned upside down after the notorious witch Madeline Reynolds escapes from prison, Cat grabs at the chance to prove herself, her magic, and to help her family and town by setting off on the riskiest adventure of her life.

The books I picked & why

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By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Book cover of Matilda

Why this book?

Matilda is the ultimate “take charge” girl! Born into a family with horrendous parents who don’t understand or even like their brilliant daughter, Matilda refuses to let them squelch her. With tremendous spirit and courage, Matilda teaches herself to read–standing up to her bullying parents, who think books are a waste of time when there’s a perfectly good telly you can watch! Squashed, ignored, and misunderstood, Matilda still manages to thrive. You will root for Matilda from the very first page, and find plenty to laugh at too. This is a story filled with humor, heart, and the most satisfying happy ending!


By Katherine Rundell, Terry Fan (illustrator),

Book cover of Rooftoppers

Why this book?

“On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the English Channel.” From the opening line this is a story you will fall in love with!  Sofie, the orphaned baby in the cello case, is rescued from a shipwreck by an elderly gentleman called Charles who decides to raise her himself. He does an excellent job and I adore Sofie’s bravery, her love of knowledge, and her passion for adventure. Certain that her mother is still alive, Sofie and Charles set off for Paris to look for her, believing that you “never ignore a possible.” This is a fabulous book about pursuing your dreams and the power of hope. Plus the writing is just gorgeous!  

Ella Enchanted

By Gail Carson Levine,

Book cover of Ella Enchanted

Why this book?

Who doesn’t love a fractured fairy tale, and this quirky, clever story with its brave, big-hearted heroine is one of my favorites. When Ella is born a foolish fairy “blesses” her with the gift of obedience so poor Ella has to do whatever she is told. Desperate to break the curse, Ella takes matters into her own hands, setting off on a wild adventure full of giants, ogres, and elves. I love Ella because, not only is she strong-willed and resilient, she’s also clumsy, (like me!) has a great sense of humor, and refuses to give up until she gets her happy ending. 

The Little White Horse

By Elizabeth Goudge,

Book cover of The Little White Horse

Why this book?

Okay, this is an old-fashioned book with some old-fashioned views, but it was my childhood favorite, so I had to include it! Orphaned Maria is sent to live with a distant relative at Moonacre Manor, but all is not as perfect as it seems, and it isn’t long before Maria discovers a world of hidden secrets and ancient feuds. It can’t have been easy growing up a feisty girl in Victorian England, but Maria Merryweather manages it, and I love that about her. She is stubborn, brave, and inquisitive, refusing to let anything dampen her spirit. As well as a passion for life Maria also has a passion for good food, (like me) so eat a snack while you read this because the descriptions will make you hungry!  A perfect balance of mystery, magic, and teatime treats.

Pippi Longstocking

By Astrid Lindgren, Lauren Child (illustrator),

Book cover of Pippi Longstocking

Why this book?

With her red braids, freckles, and flair for the outrageous, Pippi Longstocking is the archetypal feisty girl. At ten years old Pippi lives all by herself, so she can do exactly as she pleases–pretty much every kid’s dream! Pippi may not always be the best rule follower (and nor was I at her age!), but I love the rules Pippi does live by: kindness, positivity, and standing up for what she believes in. Big-hearted, irreverent, and full of high spirits, it’s impossible not to adore Pippi Longstocking. Although she is flawed she loves herself exactly the way she is, red hair, freckles and all– and isn’t that a great message for kids!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in curses, France, and revenge?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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