A quality collection of stories aimed at females in an in-between, sometimes overlooked age group readers who are older than the picture book crowd, but not yet teens On Her Way: Stories and Poems About Growing Up Girl is a diverse, compelling group of narratives representing a wide range of personalities, cultures and historical periods. "I want to show girls like those I've met all across this country that Ã”different' is okay. In fact, it's cause for celebration!" editor Sandy Asher writes in the introduction. With On Her Way, she does just that.
Readers can celebrate characters like Joanie, the heroine of Francess Lantz's "The Day Joanie Frankenhauser Became a Boy." When tomboy Joanie moves to a new school, a typographical error transforms her into "John," and she makes a split-second decision during roll call to pose as a boy. Suddenly happily she is accepted at recess basketball games instead of standing on the sidelines. However, Joanie also witnesses several instances of cheating and cruelty, and she must ultimately decide whether to "go along with the boys" or stand up for herself and reveal her true identity. Readers travel back in time with "Rabbit Stew," Marion Dane Bauer's story about a young girl in a wagon train who unexpectedly encounters her worst fear, an Indian on horseback. Elaine Marie Alphin's "New World Dreams," set in colonial Boston, features Irish immigrant Katie Reilly, an indentured servant who is almost forced to leave her mother behind as she witnesses the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party. Each of these girls shares hopes, dreams and fears, some big, some small, but all intriguing nonetheless. Asher's collection is nicely rounded off with contributors' notes, which include a photo of each author as a young girl and background about what inspired their stories. Reading On Her Way is like going to a sleepover party and staying up all night with a great group of new friends. As the mother of a ten-year-old son, I'd love to see a similar collection for boys!Alice Cary writes from Groton, Massachusetts.