Empowering Girls Through Reading: Penny Powers and the Work of Charles C. Dowd

Friday, March 8, 2024
It's a little disheartening to see how many princess and fairy books there are in the world. Don't get me wrong, I like princesses and fairies, but sometimes a girl just needs a change- something bigger, something inspiring. As a former teacher and current momma, I know how important it is to empower girls these days (and boys, too- check out my post on inspiring boys to read). That's why I was so happy to come across the work of Charles C. Dowd.

Disclaimer: I received free copies of Dowd's work in exchange for an honest review. But I loved them so much that I wanted to do more than just review them, so here we are. Also, this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I may earn a (very small) commission from qualifying purchases. You can read more about this on my Disclosure page.

Awesome Comics for Girls and Boys

So maybe the title of this blog post is a bit misleading, because it's clear that Dowd's work isn't just for girls. But it was certainly inspired by girls. Dowd created his awesome story, Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree in 2014, after he took his daughter to a comic book store and realized that most of the lead comic book heroines were sexualized (you know, buxom, sexy characters wearing skimpy outfits...). Lilith Dark is the complete opposite! She's a creative, tough little girl who isn't afraid of the big beastie tree in her backyard (don't worry, it's all in her imagination...or is it?).

Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree

Written in comic book style, Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree stars Lilith as the main character, along with her teenage brother and sister. Although the cover and the title seem a bit scary, my son (age 8) didn't find it frightening at all. In fact, he thought Lilith was funny and the beasties were entertaining (there is one monster in particular that she named Spoon- he's a cutie).

Lilith is also pretty cute, but don't let her exterior fool you- she's one tough cookie and sure knows how to wield a battle axe! There isn't really a recommended age for Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree, but I would say it's best for ages 8 and up. There is no blood, no gore, no truly awful violence (there is one scene where a zombie from Lilith's imagination is eating an arm, but it's not bloody, and The Jersey Momma's Boy pulled the book away from me and said 'That is  not scary.').

If you think Lilith Dark is a little too dark for your gal (or guy, remember, they're not just for girls) then check out Penny Powers and the Attack of the Maniacal Meatloaf Monster. Penny is a super hero cleverly disguised as a 'mild-mannered honor student.' She has a funny friend named Yuki and a kitty cat sidekick. She has her own signature 'power punch' that makes all of the bad guys quiver. Last time I checked, though, this book was out of print, but check the link anyway, just in case. 

But don't worry, the monsters Penny battles aren't overly terrifying (this one happens to be made of meatloaf) and there are some funny lines and illustrations throughout the story. Penny is also in comic book form, just like Lilith, so reluctant readers might enjoy a break from typical chapter books this way.  Reading is reading, no matter what anyone says! Comic books help to develop a love of literature, and even as a teacher, I would encourage parents to embrace all forms of writing for their children. I would personally recommend Penny Powers for kids ages 7 and up. Younger readers would also enjoy her story, but you might need to help them with the text or understanding how to read a comic book.

The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls

This book is brilliant. The end. You can almost just look at the cover and figure that out for yourself, but let me just give you a little insight to it. The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls is a board book in alphabet style (also available as a paperback and Kindle edition). Finding a copy of his book on Amazon can be a little difficult, though, since printed copies are limited (you can find a copy through third party sellers). You can easily find his activity book, The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls, though, which seriously is just as good!

Each letter of the alphabet is a job that any girl could do someday...

The illustrations are adorable and you can practically feel the girl power racing through its pages. How awesome is this??

And can I just add what an amazing gift this would be for a baby shower for a future little girl? Or as a present for any little girl you know, basically, no matter what the age?

Be sure to check out more of my 
book reviews and book lists here!



  1. I love this! You're right. Many items for girls are princesses etc. Some girls are tomboys and don't care for princesses much, so this is a nice change of pace! I don't have girls myself (two boys) and I have not yet bought them a comic. Thanks for the suggestions! I'd like the Penny comic myself. I love that she has a sidekick kitty:-)

    1. Thanks for commenting, Mandy! My son actually liked these comics, even though they are geared more towards girls. I like that there are different options out there now, too!

  2. Omg just love!!!! I have a little
    Girl so reading these types of things with her would be awesome

    1. Thanks, CourtneyLynne!! I'll bet she would love these.


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