Friday, 12 March 2010

Ten of the Best Heroes in Children's Fiction - A Challenge to My Lovely Blog Readers

The Guardian has put up another of its '10 of the Best' lists. Today's offering is 'Best Heroes in Children's Fiction down the decades'.  Great. Wonderful. I'm for anything that celebrates children's books and gets people debating.  BUT--there are some odd choices here, it seems to me, and while I am also all for female heroes being celebrated, there is a definite imbalance here. Do I feel the cold hand of political correctness (surely not in the Grauniad!). Why didn't they do 10 best Sheroes and 10 best Heroes?
Pippi Longstocking
Anne of Green Gables
Matilda Wormwood
George (really? George from Dick King-Smith's 'George Speaks?' REALLY?)
Tracy Beaker
Lyra Belaqua
Huck Finn
Petrova Fossil
William Brown
Sara Crewe

That's the list they've chosen.  Well, okay. They steered away from the too obvious Boy who Lived (but isn't he a hero?), and they also steered away from Ron and Hermione. They steered away from anthropomorphic heroes like Charlotte (of the Web),  Mole from the Wind in the Willows and Hazel of Watership Down. They also steered away from Bilbo Baggins, and Will Parry (equal to Lyra in my eyes). This has a very 'safe list' feel to me, and also an 'oh bung those in--everyone's heard of THEM' air of slight laziness and lack of research/imagination.  I'd love to see some perhaps less well-known or more modern candidates in here. Will from 'The Dark is Rising', Charlie Bone, Arthur and Gatty from Kevin Crossley-Holland's trilogy, Cat Chant, Garth Nix's Arthur, Lirael and Sabriel. Actually, I could go on and on here, but I'm going to turn it over to you lot instead. (*Later in day. Nope. Can't resist. Mine are on the comments page too! *)

I have a challenge for you.  Put your top 5 children's book Heroes and your top 5 children's book Sheroes in the comments box. Anthropomorphic candidates welcome. Be adventurous--put your opinions on the line--don't be safe and conservative. But if someone else has chosen a hero you really love too, back them up--there have to be SOME frontrunners!  This will be open till Friday 19th March, and then I'll collate all your choices, and put up 2 polls with the ones who come out on top.  I will devise a little
Top of the Polls Competition With Heroic Books to Win.  So choose away and have fun!


Susie Day said...

'Sheroes'? Really? :( That was one thing I thought the Guardian got absolutely right, at least. Pippy Longstocking would hit you with a horse if you dared to call her a heroine.

Book Maven said...

Tom (he of the midnight garden)
Frodo Baggins
Bucephalas (I am the Great Horse)
Mog (is he male?)
Stanley Yelnats (Holes)

Polly (Fire and Hemlock)
Dicey (Cynthia Voight's Tillerman sequence)
Laura (The Changeover)
Katy Morag
Charlotte and Elaine (Jan Mark's They do things Differently There)

(And I know it's cheating to have two in the last one)

Thank for the fun game!

Lucy Coats said...

Oh yippee! Those are great, Mary. And yes, I think Mog is male. Glad it's been fun for you.

Susie--don't get me wrong-as I said I'm all for celebrating the female side of things in children's books. I just think they've been lazy and that there's scope for so much more here--why not have a well thought out 2-parter of 20 instead of 10? Now where are your choices...?

David Calcutt said...


Sophie from "The BFG"
Mary Lennox from "The Secret Garden"
Alice (you know the book)
Sheherazade (is that the spelling?)
Charlotte the Spider


Jim Hawkins from "Treasure Island"
Huck Finn (I agree with that one)
Buck (a dog) from "The Call of the Wild"
The Mouse and His Child from the book of the same name by Russell Hoban (They count as one because they're joined together)
Bilbo Baggins

Katherine Langrish said...

Are we talking heroes as in those who do heroic deeds, or heroes as in 'main character of book'? (If Anne of GG is in, I'm thinking the latter?)

Katherine Langrish said...

In which case: Memorable protagonists: Female, top of the list MUST come:

Dido Twite (Joan Aiken's feisty LOndon sparrow)
Alice (of Wonderland: a tough cookie)
Lirael (rather than Sabriel: she has more to overcome)
Polly (of Diana W Jones' 'Fire and Hemlock')
Tehanu (of the Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books)


my own Peer Ulfsson of the Troll books(because he becomes genuinely heroic but always doubts himself)

Eugenides (of Megan Whalen Turner's wonderful 'The Thief' books
Oswald Bastable (of E Nesbit's 'Treasure Seekers)
Tomlyn (the touch-me-not cat in Nicholas Stuart Grey's Rapunzel retelling 'The Stone Cage')

Susie Day said...

But I don't want to celebrate girl-heroes as 'the female side of things': I want to celebrate heroes, a category which inherently includes the female side of things. It's a distinction which matters (to ranty old me anyway).

Off the top of my head (and ignoring your distinctions, alas):
Petrova Fossil (I know she's on the Guardian list but I do love her)
Mary Plain (Mostly Mary)
Titty Walker (Swallows & Amazons)
Hester Shaw (Mortal Engines)
Snufkin (Finn Family Moomintroll)
Laura Chant (The Changeover)
Rebecca (Rebecca's World)
Bindy Mackenzie (Becoming...)
Sapphire (Last of the Warrior Kings)
Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

Hmm, have just realised I was wavering over Eeyore as I think of him as older - and in fact it doesn't say Child Heroes, just heroes of children's books... blimey, if we're allowed adults that's a whole 'nother list!

Catherine Hughes said...


Have to agree about Lirael, over and above Sabriel (who also rocks). But will be original and nominate Aza of Gail Carson Levine's 'Fairest' instead.

Sophie of 'Howl's Moving Castle' / 'Castle in the Air' / 'House of many Ways'. (Diana Wynne Jones) She does magic in her own inimitable way and copes with Howl!

Gemma of 'Stolen'. (Lucy Christopher) - grace under extreme pressure.

Alice, of the 'Spooks' series (Joseph Delaney) - because she fights her nature to be and do good.

The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Anderson) because she epitomises dignity.


Marak, the Goblin king, in Claire Dunkle's 'Hollow Kingdom' trilogy. Wise and lovable - and ugly!

Sonny Flannery of Lesley Livingston's 'Darklight' and 'Wondrous Strange' - brave, loving, and bold. (I just reviewed these books on my RWL blog)

Howl (see Sophie above)

Sam, the werewolf in Maggie Stiefvater's 'Shiver'.

Peter Pan. Well, of course!

Keren David said...

I'm just thinking about this, but hurray for the mention of Mary Plain. I love those books and she is a total hero(ine.

Jo Treggiari said...

Female heroes:
I second (3rd) Petrova Fossil- I wanted to be her.
Also Jo (Little Women)
Lyra (The Golden Compass)
Katniss (Hunger Games)
Katsa (Graceling)
I also love Deryn Sharp from Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan who pretends to be a boy so perhaps she could go below?
Male Heroes:
Ender- Ender's Game
Jack- The Sea of Trolls etc.. by Nancy Farmer
Gregor- The Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
Bilbo Baggins
Shasta - The Horse and his boy; actually I love Aravis and both horses as well and they are certainly all heroic
And if I can plug my own Feltus Ovalton who is heroic despite himself

Lucy Coats said...

I can't resist now. I've GOT to put up my own choices! And anyway, if I don't someone will eventually accuse me of fence sitting. So money where mouth is time. I'm not going to put any of the Guardian choices in, even though I'm leaving out Lyra Belaqua, who is the one choice I can wholeheartedly agree with.

1. Aerin from Robin McKinley's 'The Hero and the Crown
2. Alanna from Tamora Pierce's 'Song of the Lioness' sequence
3. Lirael. Because who wouldn't love a librarian hero?
4. Sophie from DWJ's Howl
5. Tiffany Aching

1. Will Parry
2. Will Stanton from 'The Dark is Rising'
3. Torak from Michelle Paver's 'Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
4.Bilbo Baggins (I don't consider LOTR to be a children's book. The Hobbit is different).
5. Artemis Fowl (I know he could be considered an anti-hero, but I think he has a good and brave heart, and I love the way his mind works.)

That's it for me, and it was harder than I thought it would be to make those choices.

Anonymous said...


Pollyana - yes, really, one of my favourite books as a goody goody child.

Sabriel - oh i love that series.

Sadima - just read Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey - a superduper fantasy!

Jo March - i wanted to be her. strangely i don't have the endurance to read Little Women anymore despite having read it so many times as a girl.

Beverley Gray - 1920s ace reporter who married an Englishman. patterned my life after her.

Mia Thermopolis of the Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot developed the template for funny, sassy, teen voices.

Charlotte - the amazing spider in Charlotte's web


The Prince (and the Pauper) - Samuel Clemens fabulousity

Pinocchio - he's got no strings to tie him down

Bernardo Carpio - legendary giant of Philippine mythology

Hercules - i even loved the Disney version

Gary Boone - from Dogs Don't Tell Jokes - a boy who wants to be a stand up comedian

Oliver - Charles Dickens' Oliver. he's not very heroic but he sticks in the mind.

Jo Treggiari said...

Oh yes, Torak is great! Wolf too!

Lucy Coats said...

I would like to remind everyone that it's the TOP FIVE of each!! No slipping in a quick six and seven if you can't decide! It's getting interesting. There are some 2 and 3 votes in each category, but not many. Please don't worry if you want to agree with someone else, that's fine. I think it's going to be close at the top, though....

MG said...

Well...I haven't heard of George, Petrova or Sara Crewe...

MG said...

I think their list is okay, but for Petrova, George and Sara I would substitute Harry Potter, Tintin and Asterix.
And actually, I'd throw out the gables girl and put in the looking-glass kid.

Susie Day said...

Tsk: Petrova's in Ballet Shoes, which I was wittering on about at length just this week. Sara Crewe is The Little Princess: lovely book, though I'd have picked Mary Lennox over her of FHB.

Oh, I should've included Ixchel! I love her. And Katniss. And Sophie Hatter.

(And Lucy, hope you don't feel got-at by my blog! What's just semantics to you is a whole set of Big Problems to me. This thread is making me think of lots of wonderful HEROES though, so hurrah for that!)

Gillian Philip said...

Agba, the horse boy from King of the Wind
Wart from The Sword in the Stone
Stanley Yelnats (me too Mary!)
Thowra from The Silver Brumby (well, I was in love with him!)

Meggie from Inkheart
Kaede from the Tales of the Otori
Hester from Mortal Engines

Gillian Philip said...

...and that was really difficult, and I have no doubt I'll change my mind before the night is out! Great game, Lucy! x

Anonymous said...

yes! Mowgli! but how about Baloo?

Lucy Coats said...

Susie--don't feel got at at all, delighted by the lively debate this is causing. Here's what I said on your blog: Hooray, some proper debate and another opinion. This is great, Susie. As you know, I think the Guardian’s list was lazy, unimaginative and uninspired. (I was kinda joking about the cold wind of political correctness though, and wanted that to cause controversy–and bang! Here we are.) There are so many wonderful heroic characters, male and female in children’s books–why go back to the ones everyone will have heard of? (Except for George–I entirely agree with you on George, and I am a great FAN of Dick King-Smith). The main reason I wanted to divide the sexes was so that we would have MORE heroes ie 20, 10 of each. Sexuality was an easy way to divide that down the middle and I knew it might cause offence to some when I suggested it. I could have divided it into 3, female, male and furry animal. However, I can see I am going to have to explain why I used the word ’sheroes’. Apologies if you already know this, but back in the 80’s and 90’s there was a big movement in the USA to get more feisty female heroes of the kick-ass kind (ie not droopy wilting ‘heroines’ who needed a man to get them out of trouble) into YA fantasy fiction, and teen fiction generally. Thus Sheroes Central was set up by Tammi Pierce (author of the Alanna Books) and Meg Cabot. Here is a quote from their ‘mission statement’. “ is about female heroes, “Sheroes”, of every age, race, and country. Here, we discuss women and girls who get out there and do it, females who kick butt and take no prisoners, role models who inspire women and men, girls and boys. (In other words, guys are welcome, too.)” Tammi and Meg have done great work in raising awareness and inspiring/empowering girls who thought they were worth nothing by writing great role models for them. I use the word in tribute to them and what they have achieved for all of us, boys included, with their fighting and their writing. That’s the background to the word, but maybe I should have announced reason behind that particular set of semantics more clearly.

Anonymous said...

oh sorry lucy, i swear i thought i counted five. nope. can't count.

Nick Cross said...

Ok, can't think of heroes at the moment, but here are some sheroes:

* Sunny Baudelaire (A series of Unfortunate Events) - love those teeth!
* Arrietty Clock (The Borrowers) - always testing the boundaries of her world.
* Laura Ingalls (Little House Series) - selfless and good-hearted. Good heroines don't always have to be feisty)
* Coraline (Coraline)
* Charlotte (Charlotte's Web) for supreme self-sacrifice.


Gillian Philip said...

Ooh by the way, I'm pretty sure Mog is female... isn't she/he?

Baloo is good, Candy, but Bagheera is better! Or in his modern incarnation - Silas from The Graveyard Book! (Of course I'm thinking of all these Jungle Bookers in Detmold form - saints preserve us from the Disney version!)

catdownunder said...

I will add some not already mentioned, Maria in The Little White Horse", Pauline in the book of the same name by Margaret Storey, Kit in "The Lark in the Morn", Abe in Jean Ure's See You Thursday", Felix in Joan Aiken's "Go Saddle the Sea", Tonino in Diana Wynne Jones, "The Magicians of Caprona", John in Ivan Southall's "Let the Balloon Go" and Cathie, Ian and Sovra in the books by Elinor Lyon - the last being a trio children can relate to.

Linda Gillard said...


Nigel Molesworth (How to be Topp et al)
Brian Robeson (Hatchet)
Stig (of the Dump)
John Sager (Children on the Oregon Trail)
The Boggart


Katy Carr (What Katy Did)
Mary Lennox (Secret Garden)
Sara (A Little Princess)
Daisy (How I Live Now)
Matilda (R. Dahl)

Penni said...

My list (slightly skewed from an Australian perspective), and possibly a bit girl heavy, but I think as a female reader I identified more strongly with girl characters.
1. JUDY from Seven Little Australians. She is like the Jo who does not marry Mr Bhaer, which was so utterly unromantic and disappointing to me as a child (I kind of get it now). Anyway, Judy rages against the dying of the light and I love her for it.
2. Yes to Will Stanton, though (bizarrely, I know) Greenwitch is my favourite of the Dark is Rising sequence, and I adore the female magic of it and JANE's role, so she is up there too.
3. JESSICA Vye in Jane Gardam's A Long Way From Verona. Is that a children's book? She is a child protagonist...but perhaps that's a stretch. Duly noted. And look at the J names.
4. MOMO from book by the same name, Michael Ende, whose power was listening, and who saved her friends and the world
5. ANNE FRANK. I avoided reading that book for so long thinking it would be kind of dreary but for sheer resilience of the spirit of childhood, you can't go past Anne.
6. RAMONA - nuff said. She wasn't always brave, but the unexamined life is not worth living.
7. ARTREYU from Neverending Story also by Michael Ende (literary crush).
8. CASSANDRA in I Capture the Castle
9. ANNE from the Famous Five. I wanted to be George but Anne was scared, wanted to play with dolls, and went along on the adventures anyway.
10. CHAS MCGILL from The Machine Gunners and Fathom Five.

Lots of my heroes are writers & storytellers looking back over that list. I am okay with that.

Leanne said...

Many people have pre-empted my choices, but here goes!
Daisy - How I Live Now
Honor - The Other Side of the Island
Lyra - His Dark Materials trilogy
Coraline - Coraline
Cat Royal - The Cat Royal series

Will Stanton - Dark is Rising sequence
Ged - The Wizard of Earthsea
Charlie Ashanti - Lion Boy trilogy
and for fun, some picture book heroes
The Baby (I think it's a boy baby) - Avocado Baby
Ferdinand the Bull - The Story of Ferdinand

Linda Gillard said...

Avocado Baby! LOL. But Yessss!!

Lucy Coats said...

You are all fantastic, and I'm getting a huge list of names. However, there are some frontrunners emerging, and I hope there'll be lots more entries before next Friday. Leanne--yes to Ged and DEFINITELY yes to Ferdinand. We should all sit and smell the flowers more!

Anabel Marsh said...

just seen this so will need to give more thought to it - but I'm so pleased to see someone mention Cynthia Voigt's Dicey Tillerman. She will get my top vote.

Lucy Coats said...

I'll await your list with interest, Anabel--and thanks for plugging my ABBA Percy Jackson post on your blog. Interesting that no-one has nominated him...yet.

Stroppy Author said...

Great idea, Lucy.

The Snork Maiden
Winnie the Witch
Mrs Pepperpot
Maria Merryweather in The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge
Bonnie in Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken


Paddington Bear
Fungus the Bogeyman
Mortimer the raven in Joan Aiken's Mortimer and Arabella books
Jan inThe Silver Sword, Ian Serallier

Jenn Ashworth said...


Barney and Stig from Stig of the Dump


Arrietty from The Borrowers

Lucy Coats said...

Meant to say--Susie Day (see above) is 'genuinely stunned' that no one else has questioned the gender divide here. I've had my say above, but you can join in the debate further at her blog

More thanks to Anabel Marsh for promoting my Top 10 at

David Calcutt said...

I've just posted this addition the debate on Susie Day's blog, and am posting here too, if that's okay, Lucy.

Just to add a little to this debate. With regard to contemporary literature in particular I think both terms “heroes” and “heroines” – and “sheroes”- are problematical, in that for me they constrict a character to one that we should look up to, admire, seek to emulate. Now, that’s okay, I’m not against creating such characters at all, and there is need of them. But personally I’m more interested in reading – and writing – about characters who are less idealised, more “real” than that – flawed, three-dimensional characters, with whom we may identify and empathise,feel “pity and fear” for in whatever narrative conflict or dilemma they are placed. Seeing how such characters deal with, survive, and overcome these conflicts and dilemmas – or how they may fail to – rings a greater truth for me. Therefore I think I’d rather use that other Ancient Greek term – protagonist. Which also has the benefit of being applicable to characters of either sex.

Heather said...

Pippi Longstockings, a definite childhood shero
Lyra Belacqua
Anna fang, Mortal Engines
Meg Murry, A Wrinkle In Time,
Dr Dolittle
Max, Where the Wild Things Are
Will Parry
Charles Wallace Murry, A Wrinkle In Time
Ender Wiggin

Lucy Coats said...

David, I appreciate your taking the time to post this, and I do agree with much of what you say. I don't think a hero needs to be idealised though-like you a flawed and 3D 'heroic character' is far more interesting to me to read and write about. And people who 'fail' can be heroes too--in fact adversity may may them more heroic. I think protagonist is a good and excellent word--but for the purposes of this particular exercise, I'm going to stick to my s/hero shorthand.

Lucy Coats said...

PS I'd just like to say to any of those spamming comment people, that you will disappear from this blog snip snap snorum. So don't even think about it, unless you want to engage with the discussion here. NO SPAMMERS!!! GOT IT????

madwippitt said...

This is TOO hard ... but lovely to see so many of my favourite fictional friends already listed, from Ged and the Wart to Will Stanton and Artemis Fowl: so happy in the knowledge that they're safely represented I'd like to nominate some of those animal protagonists who feature so much in childrens books and certainly captured my heart as a child, but don't seem to feature as strongly in these lists:
1. Jenny (Jenny by Paul Gallico)I'm not a cat fan, but I'll make an exception for this gentle and kind hearted feline.
2. Ginger (from Black beauty by Ana Sewell) misused and abused and a tragic end having only briefly known a little kindness.
3.Flicka (My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara) - the horse all us little girls wanted to own.
4. The Disreputable Dog (Lirael by Garth Nix)
Just wonderful!
5. Violetta (The small Miracle by Paul Gallico) - the little donkey with a Mona Lisa smile who was so loved by Pepino that he went all the way to the top to ask for help when she became ill. Gallico is often schmaltzy but knows only too well how to tug on the heartstrings.

The boys:
1. Manxmouse (Manxmouse by Paul Gallico)Tiny misfit overcomes his fears and goes to face his fate in the shape of the Manx Cat.
2. Paddington Bear (Paddington books by Michael Bond) What's not to love about Paddington?
3. Bree (from The Horse and His Boy by C S Lewis)whose advice I still try to follow. Listen to what your horse is saying and you won't go far wrong!
4. Otak (from Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin) only a small part but I cried when Ged's pet otak died.
5. Winn-Dixie (from Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate diCamillo) far from the perfect pet dog, but what a sweetheart.

Sorry Despereaux and Archimedes andAdonis and Rikki Tikki Tavvi, Ludmila and all you others but I'm only allowed ten ... :-(

Lucy Coats said...

Oh, thank you madwippitt. I love all those too--maybe I should have made a furry category as well? But they'll go into the mix--let's see if there are any more furry hero votes. Would be nice to have one up in the final fives...

Leslie Wilson said...

Little My
The Groke
Mary (in Secret Garden)
William Brown
Jo March
(National) Velvet
Pony Huetchen (in Emil and the Detectives)
The Psammead

please note, these are all ones that I admired as kids...

Ellen Renner said...

Great discussion, and I think David has a good point about strong characters as opposed to 'heroes'. I'm sure I'll think of ones I've forgotten almost immediately, but right now:

My five favourite female characters:

Polly in DWJ's Fire and Hemlock
Sophie in DWJ's Howl's Moving Castle
Tiffany Aching
Dido Twite

Five favourite male characters:

Howl in DWJ's Howl's Moving Castle
Cat Chant in DWJ's Charmed Life
Will Stanton in The Dark is Rising series
Mau in Prachett's Nation
Sirius in DWJ's Dogsbody

Sheelagh said...

Oh my goodness, I've spent so long thinking about this ....
I would have to say Petrova Fossil also, as I always wanted to be her as a child, and I've just re-read Ballet Shoes with my smallest and longed to be her all over again.
Lirael - as you say Lucy, you've got to love a librarian (maybe I'm a bit biased, but being a school librarian is the best job in the world)
Matilda Wormwood (Dahl's Matilda, again my bias is showing, but I love kids who love books and education lol)
Mary Lennox (Secret Garden) again a childhood friend who I love to revisit every so often.
Pollyanna ...not so much because I'm a goody goody like Candy, but because she teaches a valuable lesson about always trying to find something to be glad about!
For the boys I choose
well I would have to agree with Ferdinand (we should all take time to sit and smell the flowers more !)
Percy Jackson ( because smallest daughter insists she will not finish reading his book with me if I don't admit I love him lol)
Bilbo Baggins (one of those childhood friends that I love to revisit and who seems as fresh today as he did 30 years ago)
Huck Finn, just has to be in there
as does Peter Pan.

I'm intrigued that when I finally nailed down my top 5 of each that the majority of them are actually from my childhood, despite the fact that I continue to read children's literature on a regular basis.

kathryn evans said...

I'm here! And struggling with this, too, too hard:
Sym from The White darkness
Valkyrie from Skullduggory Pleasant
Viola from The Knife of never Letting Go.
Mrs Pepperpot.
Little Miss Sunshine.

Charlie from Private Peaceful ( crying even as i think of it)
Stanley Yelnats from Holes
Fin from Incarceron
Pip from Great Expectations.
And I want James too from James and the Giant Peach and just to even it up, I'll have Tracy Beaker and....
No, I shall stop, so enjoyed that.....

Book Maven said...

I love Cassandra too but I don't think I Capture the Castle is a children's book. And you're right about LOTR, Lucy so can I trade my Frodo for a Bilbo?

Librarian With Attitude said...

Tricky one but here goes!
Edie - Stoneheart - fiesty, has a past but vulnerable
Stephanie - Skulduggery Pleasant - confident, gobby and altogether wonderful
Akiko - Young Samurai - very strong young lady who belies the perception of Japanese women in history being weak
Liesel - The Book Thief - tenacious
Elizabeth Allen - Naughtiest Girl in the School - always my favourite Enid Blyton books even though I was a goodie two shoes!
Lirael - of course

Skulduggery Pleasant - if a skeleton is male?!
Max - Where the Wild Things are - I adore Max!
Rowan - Rowan the Strange - brave and loyal
Jack - Young Samurai - troubled, valiant
Mr Tumnus - enough said!

Librarian With Attitude said...

N.B. Stephanie and Valkyrie being one and the same person in Skulduggery of course ;0)

Aishwarya said...


Hester (Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines)
Nicola Marlowe (Antonia Forest, Marlowe series)
Keladry of Mindelan (Tamora Pierce, Protector of the Small)
Tiffany Aching (Terry Pratchett)
Deeba (China Mieville's Un Lun Dun)


Barney Drew (Susan Cooper. Will is alright but Barney is brilliant)
Gwyn (Alan Garner, The Owl Service)
Nathaniel (Jonathan Stroud, The Bartimaeus trilogy)
Ged/Sparrowhawk (Ursula LeGuin)
Napoleon Boot (Michael DeLarrabeiti's Borribles books)

That was...not easy. I would have liked to include Katniss as well, and Taran from Lloyd Alexander's series and Sophy Hatter and a few others.

Elen Caldecott said...

It's a tough call! I don't know if I'll be able to choose ten, but here goes:
Stanley Yelnats
Artemis Fowl
Harry Potter
Tom (midnight garden)
Charlie (chocolate factory)

Dido Twite
Rose Casson (Hilary Mckay)
Darrell (from Malory Towers!)
Sarah Crewe

Tabitha Suzuma said...

This is hard. My favourite characters kept changing as I grew up and moved on to new books but the ones who have really stayed with me are...

Favourite male characters:

Pennington (Pennington)
Ponyboy (The Outsiders)
Felix Brooke (Go Saddle the Sea)
Christopher Boone (Curious Incident)
Ralph (Lord of the Flies)

Favourite female characters:

Dido Twite (Black Hearts in Battersea)
Rusty Dickinson (Back Home)
Morgan Hackett (Say Goodnight, Gracie)
Laurie Stratton (Stranger With My Face)
Cassie Logan (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry)

I'm not sure if that says more about what I think of the actual characters or the books they star in, though.

Tabitha Suzuma said...

So glad to see Dido in so many people's lists! She was a FABULOUS character, across the whole Joan Aiken series! I will never forget the absolute joy I felt when I picked up 'Nightbirds on Nantucket' and found that she was STILL ALIVE!!!

Sheep Rustler said...

Sheroes (there MUST be a better word!)
Dido Twite most definitely!
Judy from Seven Little Australians (and not just because she has the same name as me!)
Lyra Bellaqua
Lucy Pevensey
Tamsyn from Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Armourers House

Arthur Penhaligon (I just happen to be reading these Garth Nix books at the moment)
Bilbo Baggins
Marcus from Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Eagle of the Nineth
Jan in Ian Serallier's The Silver Sword

Lucy Coats said...

Wow! You are all FANTASTIC. There are now 98 separate s/heroes nominations altogether. I wonder how many there will be by Friday! I am ashamed to say that I haven't read Holes, so shall go and get it immediately so I can meet Stanley Yelnats who so many of you nominate as a hero. And yes, Tabitha--I too was thrilled when Dido was found to be alive. I love her too. I'm sorry that people have found trouble commenting--a couple of people have said blogger has been playing up. Please keep trying, and spread the word to those you think might like to join in.

Book Maven said...

OK, if Mog is female, strike Laura from my female list and put in Mog there.

And give me Howl among the chaps.

And remember I changed Frodo to Bilbo because I agreed about LOTR?

Just like to get these things straight.

Steve Feasey said...

Phew! This IS hard.
My choices are:

Peter Pan
Iorek Byrnison
Jim Hawkins
Peter Parker / Spiderman


Mary Lennox
Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Charlotte the Spider
Liesel (The Book Thief)

Book Maven said...

Yes but Steve, To Kill a Mockingbird is not a children's book!

I could argue about Treasure Island too but one must pick one's battles and I'm saying Lucy should rule out TKAM.

madwippitt said...

waaaaah no-one's nominated Pagan, please nominate him someone, I've used up my vote with the animals!

Steve Feasey said...

If it was written today, I would suggest that TKAM would be released as a YA novel. It'd be as much a children's book as His Dark Materials or The Book Thief.
I'm wriggling, I know, but...

Nicky S (Absolute Vanilla) said...

I'm nowhere near my book shelf which is going to make this a little difficult, but since you asked, I'm going got try...
Matilda (Roald Dahl)
Maria (Little White Horse)
Nan (Linnets and Valerians)
Sabriel (Garth Nix)
the girl from the Secret Garden who's name totally escapes me!

Will (The Crowfield Curse)
Alex Rider
Sparrowhawk/Ged (Earthsea)
the boy from Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book
James (from James and the Giant Peach)

Keren David said...

Have been obsessing about this for ages....


Rachel from Noel Streatfeild's Wintle's Wonders
Mary Plain
Miranda West in Antonia Forest's Marlow books
Sophie Bronzina in Masha by Mara Kay (my favourite book, out of print boo hoo)
Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables

Boys...more difficult

Ponyboy in SE Hinton's The Outsiders
Ennis and Marcus from Eagle of the Ninth
Alex in Noel Streatfeild's White Boots
Patrick Merrick in Antonia Forest's Marlow books

Lucy Coats said...

Some great new entries here--competition is hotting up at the top. WE NOW HAVE 178 NOMINATIONS!! That's a lot of different heroes and I am increasingly fascinated not only by the ones who are recurring, but also by the less well-known choices. I am so happy that this is proving a fun game for everyone. Please keep them coming.

More choices from two people who for one reason or another (mostly Blogger being annoying) couldn't post here. Thanks to them both for their tenacity and time.

First, from Philip Womack.


1. Nico in 'The Luck of Troy' by Roger Lancelyn Green
2. The Little Prince in The Little Prince
3. Edgar in The House of Arden (because he is not quite as clever as his sister but still a good egg)
4. Ged in The Wizard of Earthsea
5. Wart in The Once and Future King


1. Elfrida in The House of Arden (because she's great)
2. Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia (because she finds it in the first place and is basically amazing)
3. Matilda in Matilda (for obvious reasons)
4. Gerda in The Snow Queen
5. Alice in Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Secondly from Cassandra Golds in Australia:
"OK, Lucy, here is my list:

Nicola Marlow from Antonia Forest's books about the Marlow family, particularly End of Term and The Ready Made Family
Veronica Weston from Lorna Hill's Sadlers Wells books
Chingis in The Ghost Drum by Susan Price
The Little Mermaid
Deirdre in Down in the Cellar by Nicholas Stuart Gray

Tomlyn in The Stone Cage by Nicholas Stuart Gray
Bruce in Down in the Cellar by Nicholas Stuart Gray
The Happy Prince
Terpin Taft in Terpin by Tor Seidler
Jackson in Cracker Jackson by Betsy Byars

That's rather an eccentric list perhaps, but I've gone mainly for psychological complexity and depth of emotional experience rather than enviable or heroic qualities -- though in the case of Chingis I couldn't resist her combination of courage, kindness and supernatural power. Bring The Ghost Drum back into print! And won't somebody PLEASE reprint some books by Nicholas Stuart Gray?

Mary and Steve--I've made a unilateral decision here. TKAM is, in my opinion NOT a children's book. But I've always thought Treasure Island was. Therefore Scout is out, Jim is in. Steve, if you want to post another girl choice, that's fine and only fair, since Mary swapped around with Bilbo and Frodo and Mog and Howl (all done on lists now, M!).

Marshall Buckley said...

I have a horrible confession: I've been reading through this list and there are so, so many I simply don't recognise.

Some of them will be down to my quite appalling memory (at least in some regards) - my wife is convinced I was created from a clone at about 14 because I can recall so little before that...

I did read a lot, but Heroes and Sheroes? I simply can't think of them (from a child's perspective, at least).

*Hangs head in shame*

Lucy Coats said...

Marshall--my Wanton Toast Eating husband has no childhood book memories either. There are a few nominations I didn't recognise so don't worry about it. One can't have read EVERYTHING! I'm looking forward to making some new discoveries amongst the strangers. Thank you so much for visiting.

John said...

I've only just been pointed to this, but better late than never, here's a few....


Peter Pan
Max (Wild Things)
Charlie Bone
Snufkin (Moomin)
Charlie (Chocolate Factory)

Mary Lennox (Secret Garden)
Gerda (Snow Queen)
Lucy (Narnia)
Alice (Wonderland)
Georgina (Famous Five)


Hansel & Grethel (plucky heroes by anyone's standards)
Colin and Susan (Wierdstone of Brisingamen)
Almost any Dickens hero/heroine

And that's not including the animals!

Keren David said...

Argh...I mean Esca in Eagle of the N inth. What was I thinking?
Oh and Miranda West from End of Term onwards. Not in Autumn Term.

Anonymous said...

Girls -
Max (Maximum Ride)
Rosie (Spindle's End, Robin McKinley)

Boys -
Harry P
Matteo (Medici Seal)
Will Parry
Mole (Wind in Willows)
The baby who wouldn't go to bed (Helen Cooper)

Ooh - this was hard! I wanted George (FF) and Jo (LW) and Matilda and Sparrowhawk and Black Beauty and Jo from the Chalet School and, and ..I really wanted Severus Snape, but it looks like we're choosing Child Heroes??
Lesley M

Lucy Coats said...

John--lovely choices and thank goodness SOMEONE voted for Charlie Bone!
Keren--had assumed Esca--all fixed now.
Lesley M--it's meant to be hard. You could have had Severus--it's heroes in children's books, though most have opted for child heroes, (or at least people who start as children in whichever book it is), it's not set in stone. Tell me if you want to do a swap. Starting to look like some clear winners are emerging now. But there's still time to change that! Keep 'em coming and spread the word. Two days to go....

Keren David said...

Oh no, it's too late to change isn't it? Because I want Charlie and Lola and also Rosemary Wells's Ruby and Max. Can I make a new list???

fionadunbar said...

OK, been resisting as I know my choices are mostly hopelessly unoriginal and didn't feel I had anything to add. But here goes:

sheroes: Definitely Lyra!
Mary Lennox
Charlotte the spider
Pippi Longstocking

Heroes: Huck Finn
Peter Pan
Stanley Yelnats
Will Parry
Ted from Siobhan Dowd's The London Eye Mystery.

Steve Feasey said...

OK. As Scout Finch has been ousted (I still think that TKMB is a great example of crossover fiction, but hey...) I'm going to replace her with Judge Anderson (of 2000AD and Judge Dredd fame) because she kicks arse.

Lucy Coats said...

Keren--you have until 9am Friday to make a new list if you really want to--and I will then scrub all your previous choices!
Fi--you aren't unoriginal at all. And I love Will Parry too!
Steve--thanks. Judge Anderson in, the lovely Scout out (sorry).

Sheep Rustler said...

Looking forward to reading the final list! Pleased someone else added Marcus from Eagle of the Ninth. A number of people have mentioned The Book Thief. Is that a children's book? I didn't think so when I read it recently.

Lucy Coats said...

Final list will be up tomorrow via the two polls. Then it'll be up to everyone to vote for the top in each category--and answer my diabolical questions to win those signed copies...

I was in two minds about whether to allow the Book Thief--but I know a lot of teens who have read it as YA and enjoyed it, so am letting it through. It is crossover--but then I reckon Pullman is too. And Huck Finn....

KMLockwood said...

This was so difficult!
My choices are:
Eowyn -LOTR
if not allowed then Princess Irene in Princess & Curdie
Eilonwy - Chronicles of Prydain
Susan - Weirdstone of Brisingamen
Lila - Firework maker's Daughter
Tyke Tiler - Turbulent term of...

Mole - Wind in the Willows,
Tolly - The Children of Green Knowe
John Trenchard - Moonfleet
Kay Harker - Box of Delights
Nigel Molesworth - Down with Skool etc - more of an anti-hero, I know!
If disqualified, then Reepicheep - Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Anthony said...

I saw the Guardian list and thought...hey what about was delighted to come across this thread of posts via the ever intriguing google alert.

Sheeprustler, I second Marcus in Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth as a Hero (but indeed much hangs on meaning of hero as Katherine Langlish post pointed to)

I offer as a Shero "Boudicca" on Rosemary Sutcliff's Song for a Dark Queen.

I fear if I went for five of each I would stretch your patience since I might be tempted to offer too many Sutcliff characters, sheros and heros. I am focused (my children say obsessed) at the moment upon Rosemary Sutcliff at, and upon the life and work of a children (and adults) writer 'touched by genius" (not my words!)

Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Before the First Snow kit by Lorie Davison