Headstrong Hallie!: The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female “Fire Guard”

Sleeping Bear. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534110618.
Gr 1-5–Hallie Morse Daggett, a white woman who grew up near California’s Siskiyou Mountains in the early 20th century, was acutely aware of the danger that wildfires posed to her family and her beloved wilderness. After finishing school, Daggett was determined to work for the U.S. Forest Service, but faced disdain, dismissal, and a pile of rejection letters because of her gender. Daggett knew she was the right person for the job, so she carved a space for herself in a male-dominated field. In 1913, she was finally hired. Though her male peers doubted her ability, Daggett excelled at her work and thrived at the remote Eddy Gulch outlook station. She spotted 40 fires in her first season. Hohn’s detailed, expressive illustrations burst with action and color, bringing Daggett and her surroundings to life. Daggett’s story is told in a narrative style, with short paragraphs that complement Hohn’s illustrated spreads. Throughout, Daggett’s self-confidence never wavers, even when she is repeatedly told she is not capable of accomplishing what a man can do. Back matter includes an author’s note with several photos and more information on Daggett’s life.
VERDICT A picture book biography with luminous illustrations that are just as powerful as the empowering story of a young woman who refused to take “no” for an answer. Recommended.

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