Stand Strong Girls

Archive for the tag “adventure”

Rose Under Fire

I loved Elizabth Wein’s first novel, Code Name Verity, but it wasn’t until I was researching for my post about the covers for female authors’ books, that I realised there was a sequel. Rose Under Fire (published by Egmont) continues the story of Maddie Brodatt, but is mostly about Rose Justice, an American ATA pilot in Britain in 1944. She is captured and ends up in Ravensbrück, a German prison camp for women. The book describes a part of WWII that I didn’t really know much about before: the experiments performed on Polish prisoners, who were nicknamed ‘Rabbits’. The experiments were performed on seventy-four Polish women. The doctors claimed to be improving medical conditions for German soldiers by cutting the women’s legs in different ways and deliberately giving them gangrene.

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (published by Egmont).

I was also struck by descriptions of the prisoners ‘organizing’ things, which meant stealing things to bribe the guards with or extra food or newspapers. One thing that really stood out for me was the co-operation and support between the prisoners, who were all in the same boat, as it were.

After detailing Rose’s time in the prison camp, some of the war trials are also recounted, as well as her struggle to return to normal life, still haunted what she has seen in Ravensbrück.

The story is told mostly through Rose’s own writing, first when she is in England, and later in Paris after the end of the war. A few letters from her friends and family are used

As with Code Name Verity, this book has a rather dramatic tagline, which sums up the spirit of the women who suffered during the experiments. In Code Name Verity it was ‘I have told the truth’, in Rose Under Fire, ‘tell the world’. In other words, the world must know what happened in Ravensbrück, of the atrocities and horrors, but also of the bravery and strength of the women who survived, and those who died.

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Small steps or big leaps?

The way that women are treated and depicted has progessed so much over the years but it is still far from perfect. Take the example of the characters in one-year-old Bollywood film Ek Tha Tiger.

This is the advert for the film, notice the James Bond attitude

This is the advert for the film, notice the James Bond attitude

The film’s characters include a female Pakistani secret agent who is very skilled and able to cope during the most difficult missions. And yet you can still see the marks of sexist depiction on her, her hair is long and sleek, her facial details are smooth and well cut and she has a figure to die for. The male agent is also shown in a sexist light, i.e James Bond, guns blaring and full on tough guy. However, the interesting thing is that it is the James Bond act-alike that is weakened by love and not the female agent.

Does the fact that she is there at all make up for the way that she is depicted? In other words, when it comes to equality should and can women be satisfied and proud of small steps and gains? Or should we be getting things perfect first time, examining every small detail that might have an effect? On the other hand, could this just be an effect of the country that the film hails from?  Do all Bollywood films depict women in this way and is it an acceptable thing?

Since this blog post is turning into a page of question marks  I’ll finish now and throw the debate open to comments.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book about four children (two boys and two girls) on a very unusual secret mission. However, the plot is not my main interest in this article, it is one of the characters that this post is really about.

Kate Wetherall is probably the most independent and resourceful female character I have ever found in a book. Able to calculate weights and distances by just looking, she was also in the circus and therefore is very agile and athletic. She carries a most unusual piece of equipment with her everywhere she goes. Her bucket is her prized possession and is full of useful and practical items such as a torch, glue, a knife, rope and a very well disguised spy-glass.

It is interesting to see such a capable and bold female character as Kate. She is independent and used to working on her own but adapts well to a team and her amazing cheerfulness, even in a crisis, is well-known. I would say that Kate is one of the best characters I have ever journeyed into a book with and that in real life she would make an excellent role model for girls who wish to step outside the limiting box of fashion and make-up.

For anyone who is interested in reading The Mysterious Benedict Society, the author is Trenton Lee Stewart and it is published by Chicken House (

‘Girls’ Games’

The signature icon and title

The signature icon and title

To enforce my last article about ‘girls’ games’ I conducted an examination of the web site The website under examination is one that I visit occasionally but for which I have no real love.

To begin with, the colour scheme is pink. Big surprise! Their signature icon is one of three girls together. Down the side of the homepage there is a bar of all the types of games. A selection of these is as follows: makeover games, make-up games, dress-up games, animal games, princess games, doll games. All very girly sounding.

A selection of the games and the game menu

A selection of the games and the game menu

I admit that there is an adventure games section but even that is limiting. Inside the adventure games category there are the sub-categories: platform games (jump from one platform to another), role-playing games (be a princess) and uphill rush games (this is a mild racing game). Where are the racing, the target and the puzzle games? Gone, poof, replaced by beauty parlour and pet grooming.

Clearly, the creators of the web site think that these types of games will be popular with girls otherwise there would be no point in putting them up. This shows that many adults have a limited view of girls’  likes and dislikes in this area. This is a situation that should be changed. Girls are not all alike just  as boys are not all alike and yet gaming web sites seem to cater more for boys’ differences than for girls’.

I feel that for this situation to be changed more people need to know about this site and others like it. That way people can find different sites to play on and make a definite choice about whether they approve of the ‘pink’ approach to girls and girlhood.

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