she inspires me…stories of women in history

March is Women’s History Month and I’m happy once again to alert you to a raft of books full of stories about capable, strong, intelligent, talented, persevering, curious, courageous, visionary women.

I’ve also recently indexed all the women’s history titles in the Marmalade Archives. Yay! That’s available, with links to each review, here. There are currently over 120 marvelous selections there, representing a stunning variety of callings and vocations!

women who dared cover image

Women Who Dared: 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers & Rebels, written by Linda Skeers, illustrated by Livi Gosling
published in 2017 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

This collection of engaging one-page bios and colorful portraits is packed with fascinating women and their hardy lives!

The “daredevils” section exudes robust physicality which is I think less represented in some women’s bio collections, so if you’ve got a girl who thrills to motocross or bronco busting, she’ll love these kindred spirits!

women who dared interior by Skeers and Gosling

“Adventurers” brings us trekking up Everest, diving to record ocean depths, and everywhere between. “Rebels” features women forging new paths and acting with heroism around the world.

A thoroughly enjoyable read for ages 7 and up.

This year I tried to focus on women whose stories have not appeared on Orange Marmalade previously, but I could not resist these two excellent bios:

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Before She Was Harriet, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
published in 2017 by Holiday House

Working backwards chronologically, beginning with Harriet Tubman’s elderly, lined, eminently dignified face, we read the sequence of amazing roles she played throughout her lifetime.

before she was harriet illustration by James E. Ransome

Stunning artwork, elegant writing, a freight load of significance wrapped up in this deceptively simple account. This is probably my favorite entry on today’s list. Highly recommended for ages 4 and up.

dangerous jane cover image

Dangerous Jane, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Alice Ratterree
published in 2017 by Peachtree Publishers

The graceful, clear, subtle line and palette of Ratterree’s illustrations bring to life Jane Addams and her lifelong burden to bring care, kindness, and peace to the world.

dangerous jane interior by Slade and Ratterree

Suzanne Slade covers a great deal of ground lithely, never bogging down her narrative, then fills in more details in her author’s note. A lovely biography of such an important figure. Ages 5 and up.

The Little People Big Dreams series has gobs of great titles for ages 4 and up.  Here are bios of three important women I’ve not featured before:

emmaline pankhurst cover image

Emmeline Pankhurst, written by Lisbeth Kaiser, illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo
published in 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

I was so glad to see this bio of one of our most important suffragists.

emmaline pankhurst interior by Kaiser and Sanfelippo

Thank you, valiant Emmeline, for all you did to give us women the right to vote!

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Maya Angelou, written by Lisbeth Kaiser, illustrated by Leire Salaberria
published in 2016 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Such a great introduction to this majestic overcomer, this hopeful, crazy-talented woman.

maya angelou interior by Kaiser and Salaberria

Written with sensitivity such that even very young children can hear her story.

Marie Curie cover image

Marie Curie, written by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Frau Isa
published in 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

No tricky chemistry to understand here, just a simple story of this giant in the sciences.

marie curie interior by Vegara and Isa

Each of these books also features  an author’s note geared for ages 8 and older and accompanied by photos.

Two more new bios of women in STEM careers:

hidden figures cover image

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly with Winifred Conkling, illustrated by Laura Freeman
published in 2018 by Harper

So great to have the story of these amazing women in picture book format.

hidden figures interior by Shetterly and Freeman

Bold, colorful, digital artwork dominates the pages. The context of racism and the space program is succinctly set out before showing how each of these women, in turn, overcame enormous barriers to take their places within NASA. A powerful, optimistic story for ages 6 and up.

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Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, written by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by Katy Wu
published in 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books

Meet Grace, an endlessly-curious, thirsty-for-challenges young girl, then watch her conquer obstacles, thrill to daredevil risks, and persist in figuring out the thorniest problems.

grace hopper interior by Wallmark and Wu

It’s a lively account, accentuated by vivacious illustrations, so don’t think monotonous when you hear computer coding. Far from it! Enjoy this gem with ages 5 and up.

Finally, three older titles to broaden out our selections:

lucy maud montogmery cover image

Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Author of Anne of Green Gables, written and illustrated by Alexandra Wallner
published in 2006 by Holiday House

Charming watercolors create just the right mood for this interesting story of L.M. Montgomery whose own life reflected, in part, the life of the heroine she created.

lucy maud montgomery illustration by Alexandra Wallner

If your children know the Anne stories, they will enjoy picking out the places where reality and fiction intersect, as well as learning what a stalwart, persevering person Montgomery had to be. Lovely, for ages 6 and up.

storm run cover image

Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, written by Libby Riddles, illustrated by Shannon Cartwright
published in 2002 by Sasquatch Books

You’ll find Libby Riddles in the Women Who Dared compendium. Here she tells her own exhilerating story.

storm run illustration by Shannon Cartwright

Raised in Wisconsin and Minnesota, an outdoorsy, animal-loving kid, Riddles dreamt of the Alaskan wilderness and with the support of her parents, moved there on her own as just a teenager!

Riddles tells her incredible story with such delightful affability and fascinating detail. Her zesty life, the incredible landscapes and lifestyles of Alaska, the learning curve of racing, distinct personalities of her dogs, dangers of the trail, and harrowing Iditarod race itself, are all here.

storm run interior by Riddles and Cartwright

Awesome read for ages 6 and up. My son would have gobbled this up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Includes many color photos.


Far Beyond the Garden Gate: Alexandra David-Neel’s Journey to Lhasa, written and illustrated by Don Brown
published in 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Born in 1868 near Paris, Alexandra seemed to enter the world with wanderlust. Her formal vocal training allowed her to travel the world with opera troupes before she married and settled in Tunis in 1904.

far beyond the desert gate interior by Don Brown

This, however, was not nearly enough adventure for her. At age 43, she set out alone to explore Buddhist sites in Asia which had beckoned to her since childhood. Read this fascinating story of her Buddhist studies, wide-ranging travels, and years-long, persevering trek to Lhasa, where she was the first Western woman to visit. Beautifully told, evocatively illustrated,  for ages 6 and up.

And a P.S. — You may notice I’ve feature no women artists here. That’s because I’m saving them for another special post coming up in April, so stay tuned!