March is Women’s History Month. I’m hoping to share some weekly lists on this subject all month long…we’ll see how time allows.
There are gobs of biographies already in the Orange Marmalade archives, so if you’re looking for ideas to celebrate the intelligence, creativity, passion, insight, kindness, skill, fortitude of women throughout history — check out the Subject Index.
Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus, by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Stacey Schuett published in 2011 by Dutton Children’s Books
I’ll open with the story of the poet who penned the lines engraved on the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired,your poor Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Given the xenophobic rhetoric being flung around our country today, it’s the perfect time to be reminded that this voice of altruism and refuge is what it looks like to be a great nation.
Read about Emma’s well-to-do upbringing in New York and her life-changing encounter with a flood of Jewish victims of violence in Russia seeking sanctuary in the U.S. Kaleidoscopic color infuses these pages making it a most appealing book to share with children ages 5 and up.
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor, by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raúl Colón published in 2016, a Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
From early childhood, Marie Tharp loved maps. Certainly trotting about the country with her mapmaker father had something to do with that.
Tharp had to overcome gender stereotypes in order to pursue her love of science, then went on to pioneer the way in mapping the bottom of the world’s seas.
Such an intriguing pursuit! Her story is presented beautifully here by a talented, award-winning team. Ages 6 and up.
A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss, by Toni Buzzeo, ill. by Holly Berry published in 2015 by Dial Books for Young Readers
One of the highlights of my life involved watching elephants from the open veranda of a lodge in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. What a glory, elephants!
Cynthia Moss has spent a lifetime observing, learning about, and protecting these enormous creatures. Her story is vividly told and energetically illustrated here in this top-notch account. I really enjoyed this; a delightful choice for ages 4 and up.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Lin Wang published in 2009 by Lee & Low Books
Anna May Wong grew up at the turn of the century, the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. From the get go she was fascinated by drama, enamored with film stars, dreaming of starring in the movies herself.
Anna achieved her dream, but was humiliated by the industry’s treatment of Chinese-Americans. After years of taking roles tainted by negative stereotypes of Asians, Wong made a decision to buck the racist system. Read her thought-provoking story, a great follow-up to the discussions surrounding the Academy Awards. It’s long-ish — try it with ages 7 and up.
Women Who Broke the Rules: Sonia Sotomayor, by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Angela Dominguez published in 2015 by Bloomsbury
Here’s another in the same series as Dolley Madison, which I reviewed for President’s Day.
Krull writes snappy biographies, moving us right along without bogging down, yet including vivid anecdotes that make these women human and approachable. Dominguez contributes friendly, warm illustrations that keep the pages welcoming.
Sotomayor had so many hurdles in life — an alcoholic father, juvenile diabetes, an impoverished life in the projects. But her nickname as a toddler was Little Pepper — so that tells you something! She needed all that spunk and drive to become the first Latino member of the Supreme Court. This is a 46-page bio for ages 8 and up.