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Last week, librarians everywhere eagerly watched this year's announcements, hoping to hear that their favorites were selected.
Many shouted in exaltation, while others shook their fists at colleagues who didn't make their preferred choices. Although I did a little of both, one announcement was particularly thrilling.
Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite authors, won the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.
I was introduced to Pierce when I read "Alanna: The First Adventure," the beginning of her Song of the Lioness series.
I quickly devoured it and the other titles, even venturing into work on a weekend so that I didn't have to wait to read the next one.
Alanna wants to be a warrior but, in her world gender roles dictate her future. In the tradition of many real-life heroines, Alanna cuts her hair, and disguises herself as a boy to pursue the future she desperately wants.
Smaller and weaker than the other pages, she has to work twice as hard to keep up and there's always the stress of her secret.
Despite bullying and other struggles, she manages to make friends, including a rakish King of the Thieves and the heir to her country's throne.
Alanna's struggles and adventures continue in this compelling series that masterfully combines romance, fantasy and adventure with themes of women's roles, love and sacrifice and identity--all of which combine with great teen appeal.
Pierce has created a legacy in teen fantasy of strong, female characters, who are unlikely heroines facing great obstacles while undertaking complex journeys of self-discovery.
One such title is "The Girl of Fire and Thorns" by Rae Carson. Elisa isn't your typical heroine, even for books. She's not lithe and confident, but instead plump and insecure. As royalty, she is marrying the king her father demands while trying to be the queen everyone expects, but with power there is a price and enemies are everywhere.