Rabble Rousers and Rebels

Rabble rousers and rebels rub shoulders with artists and adventurers in these eminently browsable collective biographies.

Rabble rousers and rebels rub shoulders with artists and adventurers in these eminently browsable collective biographies of women from the ancient times to the 21st century. Included are portraits of those who stories have been all but lost to history, alongside women whose achievements are more familiar. Whether they have changed the world or just their world, all courageously took on challenges that they are remembered for today. 

redstar BAGIEU, Pénélope. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. illus. by Pénélope Bagieu. 304p. First Second. Mar. 2018. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781626728684; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781626728691.
Gr 8 Up–French cartoonist Bagieu (Exquisite Corpse; California Dreamin’) offers 29 compelling biographies of renowned female artists, scientists, athletes, explorers, activists, and warriors. While much-profiled women such as reporter Nellie Bly and astronaut Mae Jemison appear here, so do less recognized names, including pioneering gynecologist Agnodice (active around 350 BCE in Athens); Christine Jorgensen, one of the first people from the United States to receive gender reassignment surgery; Liberian social worker Leymah Gbowee; and Syrian aristocrat-turned-activist Naziq al-Abid. Each entry covers the subject’s life from birth to period of activity and, where applicable, death, across about six pages of delicately drawn panels with colorful highlights and washes. The work features humorously anachronistic props, such as modern books, as well as accurate depictions (smoking, drinking). The minimal dialogue is largely invented; declarations and thoughts are couched in distinctly 21st-century argot. The women range in age from girls to older adults at their high points of recognition and are geographically diverse. There are no source notes, but there’s enough information, including dates, national origin, and married as well as birth surnames, to spur curious teens to seek out more details. VERDICT A strikingly original collective biography for casual readers, students, and those looking for inspiration in their own lives.–Francisca Goldsmith, Library Ronin, Worcester, MA

BARTZOKIS, Kristin. (Extra)Ordinary Women: Ten Inspirational Stories. 216p. photos. KiCam. Oct. 2018. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780999158142.
Gr 7 Up–Each chapter in this collected biography describes how the subject overcame dire situations on the path to success. Reading through each of these true stories is an emotional journey. One of the profiles is about a woman named Rasheera Dopson. She was born premature and has had over 100 surgeries in her life so far. Bartzokis’s thoughts on Dopson best sum up the tone of the entire book: “She encourages everyone she meets to embrace their stories, to love their flaws, and to be different. And she reminds everyone that just because others might place limitations on you, you do not have to place those same limitations on yourself.” A photo of each women and a charitable organization that is close to their hearts is included with each chapter. The book is easy to read and can be dipped into or read from cover to cover. VERDICT Consider wherever Byron Pitt’s Be the One and motivational true stories are popular.–Kristin Joy Anderson, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL

HALLIGAN, Katherine. Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World. illus. by Sarah Walsh. 112p. appendix. chron. glossary. index. S. & S. Sept. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534436640.
Gr 5-8–From its oversize dimensions to its fantastic use of color, this volume draws readers into the life of each woman it profiles. Spread-length biographical introductions offer basic facts and also convey the significance of each subject’s life in the larger sphere of women’s history. The artwork that accompanies each personal history is a combination of photographs, folk art–style illustrations and embellishments, and quintessential quotes, rendered in calligraphy, from each subject. The result evokes a treasured, hand-crafted scrapbook rather than a dry, biographical dictionary. The vignettes are organized into five aphoristic categories: “Believe & Lead,” “Imagine & Create,” “Help & Heal,” “Think & Solve,” “Hope & Overcome.” Several of the essays cover popular and expected choices, but the authors also include a diverse selection in this compendium. For example, Elizabeth I, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Helen Keller appear along with Theresa Kachindamoto, Mary Seacole, and Noor Inayat Khan. The sketches are written at an upper elementary level, with no birth or death dates highlighted in the entries, but a “When They Were Born” appendix covers that information, followed by a basic glossary and index. The only things missing from this charming work are suggestions for further inquiry. ­VERDICT This joyful introduction to significant women throughout history is highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school nonfiction collections.–Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX

HARRISON, Vashti. Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World. illus. by Vashti Harrison. 96p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. Hachette. Nov. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316475174.
Gr 2-5–Harrison’s nonfiction picture book reads like a who’s who list of daring women. This compendium highlights the life histories and achievements of 36 curious and resourceful women, both living and deceased. Some, like Marie Curie, are often featured in collected biographies, while others, like Bessie Blount Griffin, may be less familiar. Each woman is allotted a one-page biography adjacent to one of Harrison’s now iconic portraits, crafted in Adobe Photoshop. The “dreamer” stands calmly and confidently, eyes closed, in the setting where she made a breakthrough, surrounded by the tools of her trade or her objects of study. In her introduction, Harrison reminds readers that in their own time, many of these women were not seen as luminaries and that it took a while for them to be appreciated. She also emphasizes throughout that scientists are creative artists. Back matter includes a list of 18 other visionary women, each with her own short biography; a catalogue of work by the subjects; and additional resources. VERDICT Recommended for elementary nonfiction collections.–Lauren Younger, Nicholson Memorial Library, Garland, TX

HOOD, Susan. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. illus. by various. 40p. further reading. notes. websites. HarperCollins. Jan. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062699459.
Gr 3-6–Thirteen spreads profile 14 young women in history. The profiles are arranged chronologically and each has a poem and very brief prose biography on the right-hand side, with a full-bleed illustration on the left. Each spread uses a different poetic form and is illustrated by a different woman illustrator, including Isabel Roxas and Selina Alko. The portraits, which also incorporate a quote from the subject or a primary source, vary in their levels of dynamism, abstraction, and suitability to the person portrayed. Though the poems are all by Hood, they also vary in their success; the alphabet acrostic for librarian Pura Belpré is charming and makes sense, but limericks for Annette Kellerman seem to make her into a punch line. Many of the people profiled were among the first women or girls to accomplish something; however, the specific challenges faced by women and girls of color are only minimally discussed. The poems can perhaps be used to whet students’ appetites for women’s history before they delve more deeply into the lives and challenges of individual movers and shakers. VERDICT An additional purchase for elementary history and poetry collections.–Sarah Stone, San Francisco Public Library

LAWRENCE, Sandra. Anthology of Amazing Women: Trailblazers Who Dared To Be Different. illus. by Nathan Collins. 128p. glossary. little bee. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781499806908.
Gr 5-7–In this fascinating anthology, Lawrence has selected individuals who have left indelible marks upon history. Featured trailblazers include Beyoncé, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mary Jackson. Lawrence also highlights many other women who aren’t typically covered in history texts for this audience. Divided into eight sections, this collection provides one page of informational text and a full-page portrait for each of the 50 women. In addition, six are briefly highlighted with a small portrait and one paragraph description in the introductions to the sections. (Anne Frank and Hillary Clinton are among those to be found on various introductory pages). The author does a commendable job of selecting figures from world history, describing their accomplishments in an enlightening manner, and discussing the obstacles they faced. The striking illustrations are unique and vividly capture in color the essence of each woman. After reading just a few of the profiles, readers should feel motivated and inspired. VERDICT For its notable selections and broad range of subjects, this title is highly recommended for biography and history collections for middle school libraries.–Jeanette Lambert, formerly at Nashville-Davidson County Schools

MAGGS, Sam. Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History. illus. by Jenn Woodall. 272p. bibliog. index. Quirk. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781683690726.
Gr 8 Up –This feminist anthology covers women doing awesome things across different time periods, including contemporary squads like Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The book is divided into sections featuring athletes, political and social activists, artists, warriors, and scientists. The chapters aren’t long—about 10 pages each. Maggs’s writing style is familiar and informal and often times humorous. (On why a Scottish school didn’t want to admit female students: “They also argued that the presence of female students would be distracting and tempting, which sounds like a case of ‘That’s your problem,’ but, you know, whatever.”) The book also does a fine job of focusing on and celebrating the accomplishments of women of color, including mathematician Kathryn Peddrew and Salomé Ureña, the first national poet of the Dominican Republic. VERDICT An excellent addition to libraries in need of collected biographies.–Paige Garrison, The Davis Academy, Sandy Springs, GA

redstar MOYER, Naomi M. Black Women Who Dared. illus. by Naomi M. Moyer. 24p. Second Story. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772600711.
Gr 4-8–The importance of collectives is central to this illustrated nonfiction work, dedicated to communities within transnational (mostly Canadian) black history. Moyer focuses on grassroots organizations, ranging from the international Black Cross Nurses group in the early 20th century to the more recent creation of Blockorama, which makes “a space for the black LGBTTI2QQ community within Toronto’s Pride Parade.” This record of long-lasting communities emphasizes the results of cooperation over hero narratives. When Moyer introduces individuals, she highlights how they facilitate networks, like Rosa Pryor, the first female black business owner in Vancouver, who used her restaurant to build a social hub, or border-crossing Mary Miles Bibb’s support of black journalists and readers through her 19th-century newspaper. It is a testament to the book’s strength that after reading each profile, readers will want to know more; librarians would be wise to have a list of further reading handy. Each spread features bold stylized illustrations that mix photorealistic drawings with inventive linework, silhouettes, and eye-catching complementary blocks of color. VERDICT This is a must-have for Canadian classrooms and libraries, and an important addition for U.S. collections as well.–Katherine Magyarody, Texas A&M University, College Station

PEARSON, P. O’Connell. Fly Girls: The Daring American Women Pilots Who Helped Win WWII. 208p. bibliog. index. maps. notes. photos. S. & S. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534404106.
Gr 6-8–From 1941 until 1944, more than 1,000 women, many of them already highly experienced aviators, took to the air as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Though quite small in number compared to other airborne units, the WASPs undertook many vital yet dangerous missions with the utmost skill and often very little recognition. From ferrying newly manufactured aircraft to awaiting military bases, assisting in target and searchlight trainings, towing supply gliders behind enemy lines, and acting as flight instructors and air taxis, these remarkable women risked their lives as civilians time and again in service of their country. But despite their bravery and perseverance in the face of danger, harassment, sexism, and discrimination, they would be denied military status, honors, and benefits for another 35 years. Pearson excels at clarifying this complicated war for young readers in a style that is riveting, informative, and never watered down. While bridging world events to American life in the 1940s, she tells the WASPs’ story with dignity, offering a touching, moving tribute to their extremely risky, behind-the-scenes tasks that proved vital to the war effort and an Allied victory. The author also provides a fascinating look at what sadly remained a forgotten history for far too long, creating an inspirational example for young readers to follow their paths despite the obstacles. VERDICT A fine purchase that provides a more balanced and empowered perspective of U.S. history.–Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library

SCHATZ, Kate. Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women. illus. by Miriam Klein Stahl. 112p. Ten Speed. Jul. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399581106.
Gr 5 Up–The author/illustrator pair of Rad American Women A–Z and Rad Women Worldwide present a new book featuring 50 women and girls who, before the age of 20, made an impact on the world. In an informal writing style, Schatz describes each young woman in one to three pages. The subjects are diverse in race, nationality, and ability, as well as purpose—they are athletes, activists, artists, and more. The title includes such historical figures as Anne Frank, along with contemporary individuals. The latter will be the most meaningful to readers, as they may relate more to their struggles and triumphs, such as the Radical Monarchs, an activist scout troop, and Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer. Stahl’s cut-paper illustrations are outstanding, showcasing her talent in creating portraitlike depictions on nearly every page. Though the content is impressive, its organization is somewhat lacking. Unlike the previous two titles, the stories do not follow a consistent layout, and they appear in random order. The back matter includes suggestions for readers on how to become a changemaker and short descriptions of additional “rad girls,” though there’s no formal bibliography. VERDICT Amid the plethora of collective biographies available, this one stands out for its focus on young women. Despite minor organizational flaws, it is a worthy addition to public and school ­libraries.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

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