In praise of Lumberjanes
Lumberjanes is set in a girl scout camp. The young, female characters face a series of supernatural threats. The only adults to aid them are an overwhelmed group leader and an often-absent camp owner who reminds me of a female Teddy Roosevelt. Although suitable for children, it’s also a light read for adults.
The thing I like most about the plot of Lumberjanes is how the book skips what used to be a compulsory first step. The girls just get on with their stories. They don’t need to prove themselves to other characters or define themselves. A lot of comics for girls make themselves about responding to men through overworked plots about overcoming prejudice. I didn’t realize how sick I was of “strong as any boy” characters until I read Lumberjanes. The awesome girls are just awesome and girls. The gay characters are just gay. The starting point is the second act of some of the older comics. I think that’s quite refreshing in a children’s book.
I don’t have the experience of being female, but I do have the experience of trying to pick books for my daughter. There’s a lot of preachy stuff around where she needs to be better than a boy to be worthwhile. That seems like a terrible burden to a nerdy guy like myself, who, had he been forced to prove his worth with sporting achievements, would have failed repeatedly and terribly. Lumberjanes is really comfortable in its own skin. I didn’t realize how much I’d appreciate that until I read it.
The plot’s not as deep as in an adult comic, but it has a certain “Goonies” feel that I enjoyed. The interactions between the characters, the plot, and comedic set pieces are mixed together well by the author, so they don’t jar with each other. Recommended to a broad audience.