Lumberjanes: A Book for Hardcore Lady Types
When I was a kid, good comic books were just for boys. The only comics I ever managed to read were Archie comics, and even back then I was pretty skeptical about Betty and Veronica. Best friends whose main function was to fight over the same boy week after week got to be pretty tiresome. Honestly, Archie didn't seem worth it to me. The more interesting comics with adventures and action never made their way into my hands. This is one of the reasons why I now stock my classroom library (and my home library) with a good number of graphic novels.
One of my favourite graphic novel series is Lumberjanes, created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen, and Noelle Stevenson. The story follows five girls at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Throughout the many volumes, the girls fight supernatural threats with their strength and intelligence, while unraveling various mysteries surrounding the camp. The plots are fast paced, fun, and sure to keep students engaged.
While the plots are fun, the characters are why I keep buying the books. Lumberjanes exists in an ideal world. Women can kick monster butt and solve problems creatively, without being reduced to a Damsel in Distress trope. Lesbian characters can crush on each other and openly go on dates. A transgender girl is free to express her gender identity. In any other book, these last two plot points would revolve around the discrimination these characters face. While those types of stories are valuable, since they are useful for teaching empathy and acceptance, I appreciate that Lumberjanes takes a different approach. A world where LGBTQ people are accepted without question is the ideal, and I think it is important to show students stories like this. For LGBTQ students in particular, this type of story is empowering.
The Lumberjanes series is incredibly popular in my classroom for both boys and girls. The first few volumes frequently wander off and require replacement more often than other books in my library. When a reader loves a book so much that it doesn't find its way back to me, I know the story grabbed a reader. They see themselves in the book and are reluctant to let it go. This is high praise indeed and shows the importance of books that really speak to our readers.