The Gist: Barbara Thorson, a strong-willed fifth grader at Birchwood Elementary School, has problems. Barbara’s home life is askew and at school she’s a frequent flier in both the principal’s and school psychologist’s offices. Barbara also sees supernatural things like fairies and talks about how she has to kill giants. Whether all Barbara’s problems are real is a matter for the reader to decide.
Story Review: Barbara Thorson breaks the conventional female protagonist mold. She’s a smart-mouthed ten/eleven year girl who is interested in what society deems “boy” topics like role playing games (RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons) and is willing to physically fight for her beliefs. She also marches to the beat of her own drum. The first full shot of Barbara has her wearing bunny ears, a girly skull tee and her tiny heart-shaped purse which holds her giant-killing hammer. In the beginning of the book Barbara has no friends and no one inquiring about the position until a girl named Sophia moves in next door to her. The bond the two girls share is reminiscent of Frank Bannister and Lucy Lynskey’s bond from the movie The Frighteners. The blacking out of important information when it all gets to be too much for Barbara is also an interesting touch that reminds me of Quentin Taratino (specifically Kill Bill‘s Kiddo).
Visit a museum exhibition on ancient cultures or mythic creatures (like the Mythic Creatures exhibit at Fernbank, if you happen to be in the Atlanta area)
Discover what ancient cultures thought about supernaturals like giants and titans
Interview a Dungeons and Dragons (or other RPG) player near you
Spend some time are your local geek haven (If you don’t know where one may be check out Yelp for your area or check out the Comic Book Store Locator)
Prove that you know that you are stronger than you think you are by taking that scary first step you’ve been dawdling over. If you want to feel extra empowered or need a little extra accountability, say it out loud or write it somewhere public.