Alanna, The First Adventure: Recommended Readalikes

Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

We heard it over and over again while we were growing up: anything a boy can do, a girl can do. This was the 90’s, the glorious era of grrrl power and superhuman women like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We had Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X Files, and the shiny landscape of third-wave feminism. Being a girl could be powerful and cool and magical. Although we’ve long since grown into our own power, we’ll always be captivated by Alanna’s incredible strength and bravery. Young readers looking for readalikes to Alanna: the First Adventure might enjoy the following books:

  • Dragon’s Egg by Sarah Thomson
    Okay, so we admit that there are no dragons in the Alanna series (at least not “on screen”). However, this middle grade fantasy novel contains themes of magic, adventuring, and knighthood, as well as a brave, skilled female protagonist who has big dreams. We contend that dragons would have fit in well into Alanna’s story and have no compunctions about recommending this one. You’ll have to search outside our library system if you’re interested in this fifteen year old novel, but it’s well worth it.
  • Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
    Like Alanna, Igraine dreams of knighthood and does not wish to learn magic. Magic remains a strong theme in this book as Igraine’s parents are both magicians. This book is lighthearted, humorous and perfect for readers who might even be a little younger than the target audience for the Alanna series.
  • If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid
    We know that Alanna had complex feelings toward traditionally feminine things such as dresses but, given her mastery of disguise, we couldn’t resist including this title. Eleven year old Darling finds herself in a castle with one hundred dresses that transform you into another person if you try them on. Each dress represents a different transformational adventure. Good for readers who appreciate fairy tales. While it’s another book requiring a hero’s quest (to Marina, to order from another library system), it’s worth its weight in gold.

Older teens and adults looking for books that will help them recapture the feelings they experienced while reading the Alanna series might try some of these titles:

  • The Witcher series by Andrze Sapkowski
    You’ve probably heard of the television series on Netflix. Did you know, though, that it’s based on a series of books by Polish author Andrze Sapkowski? You can pick up the first one, The Last Wish, if you’d like to see what the fuss is all about. Bonus: If you devour the books, binge watch the show, and still want more, there are also video games. There are parallels between the two series with the swordplay and the use of magic. Some of the themes around gender are also analogous. We’re not saying that a factor in picking this was Yennifer’s purple eyes (like Alanna’s), but we’re also not saying it wasn’t a factor.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
    In Katsa’s world, people who possess similar special skills (known as Graces) can be identified by the different colored eyes as children. Depending on the nature of the specific Grace, their owners are sometimes placed into positions where they can be used to further the goals of powerful people. Katsa has possessed the Grace of killing from a young age. Unhappily in service to the King, she is forced to use her power on his enemies. Those drawn to Alanna’s fighting skills who are interested in a deeper discussion about whether skills should be used to protect (instead of kill) may find meaning in this title about survival, agency, and identity.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena by Be-Papas and Chiho Saito
    Fans of the Alanna series as well as those who enjoyed our recent episode on Sailor Moon might enjoy this manga title. It features a tomboyish teenage girl who achieves skill in dueling after resolving to become a prince. While still a little girl and mourning the loss of her parents, Utena Tenjou meets a prince and receives a rose-engraved signet ring from him that will shape her destiny.
  • Steel by Carrie Vaughn
    Time travel! Pirates! A significant and mysterious rapier in the sand! Jill is a modern teenager who participates in the modern sport of fencing, an activity in which everyone is accustomed to adrenaline spikes and bruises. But when she is transported back in time to when swords were sharp and the stakes were life or death, she must find a way to survive. She might even have time to find a way back home.

This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode, Alanna: The First Adventure, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Or you can simply click on the link to the episode to listen.

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These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped our childhoods. @PGCMLS

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These Books Made Me

These Books Made Me

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped our childhoods. @PGCMLS

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