10 of the Best Heroes from Children’s Fiction


Pippi Longstocking from The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Also known as Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking, this nine-year-old Swede is a rebel and an eccentric who strides about town in a pair of man’s shoes and is possessed of a strength so formidable that she can lift her horse. She lives free of adults and their rules in a house with her pet monkey, said horse and a suitcase full of gold. A thrilling naughtiness, particularly towards the more exasperating breed of adult, is tempered by a pronounced sense of fair play. A powerful defender of the weak and oppressed, she introduces her two young friends to realms beyond the conventions of 1940s village life

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

Despite a brutal upbringing, Anne Shirley, an orphan sent to live with a sibling couple on Prince Edward Island in Canada, has an infectious appreciation for the beauties of life. She is a dreamer whose fantasies land her in unusual predicaments that appal the local worthies in this early 20th-century community. Kindness, courage and relentless optimism can make for a bland read, but Anne’s headstrong nature and garrulousness attract enough trouble to keep her winsome throughout the nine books in the series.

Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl

At the age of six she has read her way through her local children’s library and embarked upon Dickens, Orwell and Austen. This formidable intellect is unappreciated by her parents, who compel her to watch more television, and by her brutal headteacher, who is inclined to fling irritating children out of windows. And so her frustrated genius finds outlet in telekinetic powers that can usefully torment said headteacher with invisibly guided newts and chalk. The precociousness is softened by childish mischief – she takes imaginative revenge on her parents – and by fearless loyalty to the one person who shows her sympathy.

George from George Speaks by Dick King Smith

At the age of four weeks, George utters his first syllables. Not infant gurgles but stern, fluent, adult loquaciousness. His skills are revealed only to his older sister Laura. He helps her with her homework and in return she assists him with the challenges of babyhood. He is crafty – he uses Laura to manipulate his parents – and intelligent, but also caring and sensitive. When on his first birthday he delivers a speech to his startled family, Laura asks if he would like to be a judge or a lawyer. His ambition, though, is to write stories for other children to enjoy.

Tracy Beaker from The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson

Superficially this is the “autobiography” of a graceless 10-year-old with behavioural problems. Tracy, abandoned by her mother, lives in a children’s home and has been rejected by the two couples who try to foster her. She is sulky, vengeful and prone to tall stories. Underneath is a vulnerable little girl who eagerly responds to any show of affection and who invents fantasy worlds to cope with her own grim reality.

Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

A lack of conventional storybook charm makes this 11-year-old instantly arresting. Raised as an orphan by the staff of a fictional Oxford college in a parallel universe to our own, she is unruly, quick-witted and cunning. She is also an accomplished liar. A witches’ prophecy declares her “destined to bring about the end of destiny” and, after a fashion she does, liberating innumerable souls during her adventures. A second Eve, her Fall brings happier consequences than her biblical counterpart and reveals her pluck, resourcefulness and almost supernatural intuition. She is, at the end, prepared to sacrifice her alter ego/daemon to keep a promise to rescue a friend.

Huckleberry Finn from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Twain reckoned it an account of how “a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat”. Huck, son of a drunkard in America’s deep south is introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as Tom’s friend and conspirator in a series of madcap adventures. In his own tale he develops into a challenger of early 19th-century mores. As he and the fugitive slave Jim flee down the Mississippi, Huck reassesses his racial prejudices and ignores his civic “duty” to turn Jim in.

Petrova Fossil from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

She is one of three abandoned babies salvaged by a scatty geologist and sent (in Petrova’s case by the Russian postal service) to be brought up by his long-suffering great niece. Petrova is the only one of the trio who is not naturally enraptured by the arts (engines are her passion), but she gamely takes to the stage to help supplement the family’s dwindling income. She is industrious, honest and giving and embraces her fate with good humour while nurturing her real ambition to be a pilot.

William Brown from Just William by Richmal Crompton

Grubby, irreverent and accident-prone, William is a rascal with a conscience. He turns a temperance meeting into a punch-up, wrecks the love life of his elder siblings and, due to a misunderstanding of a double negative, throws a wild party in his parents’ absence. His intentions, however, are usually kindly. Ever since he and his band of Outlaws burst into the nation’s consciousness in the 1920s he has come to embody an ideal of boyhood.

Sara Crewe from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Cinderella figure who embodies Victorian saintliness in the face of adversity. At seven Sara is pampered by her father who demands the priciest luxuries from the boarding school at which he enrolls her. Privilege, however, fails to corrupt her. She is intelligent and good humoured with an infectious warmth that embraces the lowliest of her new acquaintances. The sunshine continues when impoverishment and drudgery befall her and she relies on her private fantasies to preserve her natural zest for life. Her selflessness naturally ensures a cheerful destiny.



1. 在多年的写作生涯中,安妮·泰勒(Anne Tylor)创作了一些列有几分可笑又有几分感伤的小说作品。在这样的作品中,泰勒的男性人物形象具有鲜明的特点。虽然形象各异,但是基本特点大体相同。这些人物大多在生活中郁郁不得志,虽然为人憨厚老实、敦厚善良,但却孤僻冷漠、消极被动。在她的新作《诺亚的罗盘》(Noah’s Compass)中,泰勒再次塑造了这样一个人物形象,60岁的利亚姆·佩尼维尔(Liam Pennywell),一位曾经担任过教师的古怪老人。通过这一人物的生活经历,读者可以看到生活中的小人物,那些所谓的失败者所面临的困境和无奈。一方面他们在生活中总是采取回避的态度,另一方面,他们自己也悲哀地发现,自己从来都在生活之外,从来没有真正拥有过生活。

2. 艾美·布鲁姆(Amy Bloom)女士既是一位心理治疗师,也是一位创造性写作的教授,而且,毫无疑问,她在这两个领域都具有超凡的天赋。她于2007年发表的小说《走开》(Away)就是一部非凡的杰作——语言简练精准流畅,富于睿智,艺术手法多样,迂回曲折,跌宕起伏。其实她的每部作品(包括短篇小说)都有其可圈可点之处。这一点在她的最新短篇小说集《爱神眷顾的地方》(Where the God of Love Hangs Out)就表现得非常明显。这部短篇小说集中的各个短篇并内在的联系,但是却又仿佛一个个独立的积木块一样可以组合成一个精妙的整体。布鲁姆女士所塑造的人物,无一例外地,都非常成熟,很少有年轻人出现,有些人物都已是耄耋老人。这些人物都仍然具有给别人以及他们自己带来惊喜的能力。因此,关于他们的故事也就显得趣味盎然,而且读者也能够从中寻找到自己想要的意义。

3. 曾经专门介绍过英国文坛的后起之秀,女作家扎迪·史密斯(点击这里,或者这里查看)。史密斯女士不仅仅是一位才华出众的小说家,她同时也是一位英美文学研究者和批评家。继《他人的书》(The Book of Other People , 2007)之后,扎迪·史密斯最近又出版一部文学批评文集《改变我的思想》(Changing My Mind:Occasional Essays)。在这部论文集中,史密斯女士点评的作家包括莱昂奈尔·特里林(Lionel Trilling)、埃德蒙·威尔逊(Edmund Wilson)、佐拉·尼尔·赫尔斯顿(Zora Neale Hurston)、乔治·艾略特(George Eliot)、卡夫卡、福斯特(E. M. Forster)、纳博科夫等等。从中我们可以非常清楚地了解到作为作家的扎迪·史密斯的文学观,以及其作为黑人女作家的情感世界,等等。

4. 约翰·纽贝里奖章(John Newbery Medal)是专门颁发给优秀儿童文学的一个奖项。今年的一月18日,这项杰出儿童文学奖颁给了小说《当你到我身边时》(When You Reach Me)。作者丽贝卡·斯戴德(Rebecca Stead)将这部作品的背景设在1970年代的纽约。作品结构错综复杂,引人入胜。

5. 你知道那部感人至深的美国电影《爱情故事》(Love Story)吗?60后、70后们都会知道。或者至少会知道经过费翔的传唱而一度红遍大江南北的这部电影的主题曲LOVE STORY吧。其实所有这些都源于那部同名小说《爱情故事》(Love Story)。这也是我本人开始阅读的第一部英文小说。这部小说的作者名叫埃里克·西格尔(Erich Segal),耶鲁大学教授。《爱情故事》是他的第一部小说,也是最有名的一部。1970年,这部小说刚一出版面世就立即受到了广大读者的热烈欢迎,并且很快就被改编成了电影,进而一度风靡全球。2010年1月17日,埃里克·西格尔先生因患心脏病在伦敦他的家中不幸离世,享年72岁。

6. 罗伯特·帕克(Robert B. Parker)是一位畅销书作家。他以创作神秘小说而闻名于世,一生创作了将近40部作品,塑造了硬汉斯宾塞这一经典的私家侦探形象。2010年1月18月,帕克先生在麻省剑桥他的家中去世,享年77岁。

7. 艾略特诗歌奖1月18日晚在伦敦揭晓。英国当代文坛最受器重的诗人菲利普·格罗斯(Philip Gross)以所著诗集《水案》(The Water Table)赢得大奖,并获奖金1.5万英镑(约合人民币16.7万元)。57岁的格罗斯现任威尔士格拉摩根大学创意写作教授,写诗,也写小说和剧作,早在1981年就获得了格雷戈里诗歌奖,次年又在全国诗赛中胜出。虽早在文坛居得高位,其大名却难入寻常百姓家。今年艾略特奖的评委会主席西蒙·阿米塔奇希望借此让人民听到当代诗坛的新声。
艾略特奖是英语世界最著名的年度诗歌奖之一,1993年,TS·艾略特创办的诗书协会在庆祝建会40周年时,创办此奖,用以表彰上一年度在英国和爱尔兰出 版的最佳诗集。去年该奖的得主是英国诗坛女新秀珍·海德菲尔德(Jen Hadfield)所著《无邻之地》(Nigh-No-Place)。

8. 2010年1月美国文坛最重大的事件当然要数《麦田守望者》的作者,J·D·塞林格先生的去世。相关文字在这里这里