When Pixar’s Up was released in 2009, NPR blogger Linda Holmes wrote a piece that in part argued that young Ellie – a pivotal character who nonetheless gets maybe five minutes screen-time – was just the type of girl she’d like to see as a central character.  Young Ellie is a refreshing change from the sort of girl we’re used to seeing in animated children’s films, the damsel-in-distress, overtly feminine princessy sort, that is.  But she’s only a glimpse.  Flash forward three years and along comes Pixar’s Brave to (kind of) answer the call.  Brave’s Merida is still a princess (Dear Pixar: Linda Holmes specifically requested a non-princess lead character like Ellie), though one with some big differences.  Here we have a young woman challenging gender norms and the status quo whose relationship issues are with her alive-and-well mother instead of anyone resembling a true love.  It’s just the sort of film I figured might earn the endorsement of A Mighty Girl, a new website devoted to compiling lists of books and films that offer empowering representations of female characters for young readers and viewers.  I spoke with Carolyn Danckaert, the site’s co-founder, about A Mighty Girl, literary and cinematic representations of girlhood (empowering and otherwise), and the sea change that Brave just might be a part of.

Please explain what just happened.

I am sitting on the tarmac at LAX and was just told that my already two-hour delayed flight to Hawaii was going to be delayed another hour.  Try explaining that to a six-year-old.


What is your earliest memory?

My memories pre-five are spotty, but I can remember my first day of kindergarten. It was like being offered an adventure that I had no interest in participating in.  I recall watching in terror as one boy was forcibly dragged into the classroom by his parents while he was clawing at the walls and screaming at the top of his lungs.  I thought to myself, “What kind of horrible world am I being dropped into?”