Our Favorite Redheaded Children’s Book Heroines
We’ve confessed our love for gingers before. But what we failed to mention is that the sentiment extends way beyond our current obsession with pop culture icons like Molly Ringwald and Conan O’Brien all the way back to childhood. Our favorite books to read back in elementary school always featured redheaded heroines. Why? Because they were just more interesting. Here’s proof.
Amelia Bedelia – A bit of trivia: Amelia Bedelia, the late Peggy Parrish’s extremely literal-minded housekeeper character, is actually based on a maid in Cameroon, where she spent time in childhood. While it’s not necessarily one of those children’s series that you can get much enjoyment from now, back then we loved reading about an adult who found the English language’s intricacies even more confusing than we did at the time.
Anne of Green Gables – Anne Shirley (note the “e” in Anne, which she says makes it “so much more distinguished”) is an orphan adopted by an elderly brother and sister to help out on their farm on Prince Edward Island. She was supposed to be a boy. Between accidentally dyeing her hair green, getting tipsy on wine she believes to be raspberry cordial, and trying (and failing) to spark the imaginative juices in her “bosom friend” Diana Barry, Anne turns the sleepy town of Avonlea on its head.
Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink’s adventurous 11-year-old “tomboy,” Caroline Augusta Woodhouse (aka “Caddie”), was inspired her grandmother’s childhood in the woods of 1860’s Wisconsin. We can remember being impressed by both the pioneer wild child’s technical (she can fix clocks) and interpersonal skills (she smooths over a rift between the settlers and her Native American pals).
Madeline – The titular character of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series is the smallest of the twelve girls in Miss Clavel’s class, and the only redhead in the otherwise identical bunch. She’s also known for being the smartest and bravest, which would explain why Pepito, the Spanish ambassador’s son, has a huge crush on her. Meanwhile, we were madly in love with her sailor hat and cute little coat.
Pippi Longstocking– In what could be considered a female response to Peter Pan, Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking (full name Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking) does not want to grow up, and she doesn’t trust adults one bit. Things that impressed us about Pippi, aside from her gravity-defying pigtails: She had her own house (Villa Villekulla). She had a pet monkey (Mr. Nilsson). She had the strength to lift her horse (Old Man) with one hand. She had a suitcase full of gold coins.