From the Beacon: Girls lead the way in these series

Summer vacation might be coming to an end, but there's still time to start a new book. Here are some series featuring female protagonists who face tough situations, solve their problems and, of course, save the day.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Cam Jansen: Cam Jansen is a curious elementary student nicknamed "Cam" because of her photographic memory. The books introduce scenes, provide clues and explain resolutions in chapters of ten pages. Short chapters make the series an ideal choice for parents encouraging their children to step up to chapter books. There also is a Young Cam Jansen series for readers who aren't quite ready for black and white pages with few illustrations. Readers of all ages will enjoy trying to find the clues and attempting to solve the mystery before Cam.

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: This updated series features an 8-year-old Nancy Drew and her friends from River Heights, Bess and George. Nostalgic parents hoping to introduce their children to the Nancy Drew classics might want to try the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew or the Nancy Drew Notebook modern series first.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Sisters Grimm: Eleven-year-old Sabrina and her younger sister, Daphne, are the Sisters Grimm, fairy tale detectives who discover that well-known fairy tales actually are documents of strange historical events. The series is dark, slightly scary and definitely better-suited for older students. Suspenseful plots feature characters such as Red Riding Hood (a mental patient) and Mr. Canis (who alternates between a human and the Big Bad Wolf).

Tiffany Aching: Nine-year-old Tiffany, armed with only a frying pan and a book of sheep diseases, triumphs over a monster in the first of several challenges to save her brother and her homeland. Tiffany is sassy, spirited, brave and definitely not one of those "stupid smirking princesses who didn't have the sense of a beetle." With the help of Rob Anybody and the Wee Free Men (tiny blue men with red hair and a fondness for "fightin' an' stealin'"), Tiffany is able to escape strange creatures and rescue her little brother. Readers who enjoy "Wee Free Men" will enjoy the sequel, "Hat Full of Sky."

Column published in the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette on August 9, 2009