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The only two characters I could think of for this one were Punky Brewster and the Warner sister Dot (... moral of the story: I just lost over half an hour on YouTube). I was a reader, okay?

Day Eleven: Favorite female character in a children’s show work

General Anna of The Pushcart War.

Other contenders include (in roughly reverse chronological order) Ellie, Sabriel, Anne and George, with special mention to Lina from The Wheel on the School for demonstrating the power that observation and asking questions have to effect change.

I read a lot as a kid, but General Anna retains a vivid place in my memory, as does the book. (Amazingly, I discovered my old copy of it at my mother's, complete with "property of" in my ten-years-old handwriting and brittle masking tape holding it together. I also covered it in – what's it called? – that clear plastic adhesive protective cover thing. Not a single bubble or crease in the surface. I may have missed my calling as a librarian.) As a whimsical rundown of twentieth century war, severely simplified and condensed (and killing-free) into the microcosm of the streets of New York, it's all pretty interesting now that I come back to it as an adult. But let's stick to General Anna.

From Chapter X, The Meeting at Maxie Hammerman's: The Pushcarts Decide to Fight

Looking back on the Pushcart War, it seems possible that the trucks might have gone on slowly breaking up the pushcarts in what looked like accidents, if it had not been for Mack's brutal attack on Morris the Florist. But the day after Mack hit Morris, the pushcart peddlers held a meeting at Maxie Hammerman's shop. It was at this meeting that the peddlers decided to fight back.


"I don't understand," said Papa Peretz. "They could kill us all, and the traffic would still be terrible."
"So then they will have to find someone else to blame," said Maxie Hammerman. "Motorcycles, maybe. Or grocery carts, such as the ladies take to the supermarket. Then people will see how silly it is."
"By then," said Old Anna, "we will all be dead."
"That is correct," said Maxie Hammerman. "We will all be dead. Unless –" Maxie picked up a hammer and held it as if he were about to hit something a quick hard blow.
"Unless what?" said Frank the Flower, seizing Maxie's arm, in case he should be about to throw the hammer through his window again.
"Unless we fight back," said Maxie Hammerman, pulling his arm free and whamming the hammer down on the table in front of him. "I say the pushcarts have got to fight."
"Of course, we have got to fight," said Old Anna.
"Fight the trucks?" said Papa Peretz. "How can the pushcarts fight the trucks?"
"Maybe you'd rather be dead?" said Old Anna.
"Naturally, we wouldn't," said Harry the Hot Dog. "But how can we fight the trucks?"
"Listen to me, Harry," said Old Anna. "First, you decide to fight. Then you ask me how."
"All right," said Harry the Hot Dog. "Fight! So now I ask you – how?"
"Yes, General Anna, we are listening," said Eddie Moroney, bowing to Old Anna. (This is how Old Anna came to be known as General Anna. Eddie Moroney called her General Anna at the meeting at Maxie Hammerman's shop, and the name seemed to suit her.)
When it came to a vote, all the pushcart peddlers were with General Anna. They realized that they had to stick together. And they had to fight.
"But how?" Harry the Hot Dog asked again. "You want me to sell poison hot dogs to all the truck drivers maybe?"
General Anna shook her head. "It's okay by me you should poison the truck drivers. Only you might get the poison dogs mixed up with the regular, and then you'll be giving the poison to a good customer."

Later, in the campaign, dismayed that she is such a terrible shot at peashootering pins into truck tires while she's supposed to be looked up to as General Anna, she just starts going up and sticking the pins in by hand. (She also saves Morris the Florist's life by pulling him out of the path of being run down for a second time.) She does not give up, even when the war is at its darkest. She is the quintessential old lady who gives zero fucks and doesn't so much as blink when the war lands on her doorstep, just suits up and wades in and fights dirty (an old lady's prerogative) and gives no quarter because why the hell should she? No fear. She'll win or die trying, and in some ways you wonder if she hasn't kind of been waiting for this her whole life to realise her full potential. Cometh the hour, cometh the badass old lady.

Plus, coolest name in the Pushcart War (second coolest name among the pushcart peddlers overall, because really, you can't beat Maxie Hammerman, The Pushcart King).

... Actually, now that I think about it, she's reminding me a lot of my Oma, who was born in WWI and was a nurse in WWII, and always a handful. She passed away a few years ago, but before that, if there were a reason to wage war, by golly she's the one I'd get in line behind.

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January 2016
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