a delightful dozen…stories for women’s history month…part one

March is Women’s History Month and each week I’ll have a post with that focus.

 I’ve got a dozen picture book biographies giving us twelve new women to admire.
The first six are here for you today.

herstory cover image

 I’ll also have a post of anthologies introducing an array of women from around the world and across time who have been up to some very cool business.
Plus a musings post mulling the Nobility of the Ordinary which I think is especially relevant for us amidst these accounts of history’s heroes.

I hope you’ll join me all month long!

a lady has the floor cover

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights,
written by Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Alison Jay
published in 2018 by Calkins Creek

Meet a firebrand, Belva Lockwood, who pushed against the incongruous limits placed upon girls and women from the time she was a youngster in the early 1800s. “Has God given to one half of his creatures talents, and gifts that are but as a mockery — wings but not to fly?” she asked.

a lady has the floor hannigan and jay

Let me tell you, if you think Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a trail-blazer, you really ought to meet Ms. Lockwood! One of the nation’s first female attorneys, a tireless advocate for the rights of the outsider and the cause of peace. Fabulous bio for ages 6 and up.

game changers cover

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams,
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
published in 2018, A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Speaking of tireless, tennis champions and sisters Venus and Serena Williams have tirelessly honed their skills on the court from the time they were little shavers.

game changers Ransome and Ransome

The dedication of these two to their sport is astounding to read about, particularly given the adverse circumstances they had to contend with including gang violence surrounding their neighborhood practice courts. This is a joyous story of two athletes who are simultaneously fierce competitors and loyal sisters, an inspiring read for ages 6 and up.

joan procter dragon doctor cover

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman who Loved Reptiles,
written by Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Felicita Sala
published in 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf

This has got to be one of the most unusual occupations on this year’s lists. Joan Procter was a lizard-aficionado from the time she was a wee girl in London, preferring to take her tea parties with those scaly fellows rather than a china doll.

joan procter illustration by Felicita Sala

Fast forward to WWI when Procter, then a young adult, was able to snag a job assisting the curator of the Natural History Museum. Following that, she was asked to design a new Reptile House for the London Zoo. Joan clearly had a unique knack with reptiles! Valdez and Sala have teamed up to produce an absolutely lovely account of this lovely person which I highly recommend for ages 5 and up.

regina persisted cover image

Regina Persisted: An Untold Story,
written by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
published in 2018 by Apples & Honey Press

I do try to feature different women from year to year, even though some previously featured persons — Malala, Ada Lovelace, Frida Kahlo — continue to inspire more and more biographies that are truly fantastic. I’ll leave you to find those yourselves!

regina persisted illustration detail Margeaux Lucas

This story of the first woman ever ordained as a rabbi fits my criterion exactly! What a fascinating story it is. Regina Jonas was born into a Berlin household in 1902 and had a yearning for studying Torah from a young age. Her dear father fed this desire by teaching both Regina and her brother Torah and Hebrew, but his death at a young age forced Regina to scrabble for further learning in an era where religious education for girls was considered irrelevant. Her long, fervent, patient, journey resulted in ordination in 1935, on the brink of the Holocaust which would take her life. Such an important and impressive story. Ages 5 and up.

lights camera alice cover image

Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker, written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Simona Ciraolo
published in 2018 by Chronicle Books

Here’s a woman I had never heard of before. In fact, as her story unreeled, I found myself stopped short several times, flabbergasted over the facts of this woman’s life and how they have been obscured over time.

lights camera alice illustration Esme Shapiro

Because — did you think the first talking picture was The Jazz Singer? Have you always heard that the Lumière brothers were the first to use film for storytelling? Well! Forget what you knew before and discover a true film pioneer whose name and contributions to film making were effectively edited out because …you guessed it… she was a woman. This is a vibrant, bustling story, bursting with sunny illustrations and a clever, old-time-movie format with stylized title cards introducing the chapters in Alice’s life. Fascinating for ages 5 and up.

eliza cover image

Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schulyer Hamilton,
words by Margaret McNamara, artwork by Esmé Shapiro
published in 2018 by Schwartz & Wade

Now here’s someone you’ve all probably heard of, especially with the Hamilton enthusiasm that has swept the country for the past few years. I’m so pleased to see a biography of the woman most of us know as “Hamilton’s wife.” For in her own right, she was quite an extraordinary person.

eliza interior by McNamara and Shapiro

Certainly her association with all of the most famous Americans, from George and Martha Washington to Andrew Jackson (whom she despised), makes Elizabeth’s life intriguing. And her early widowhood due to the infamous duel between her husband and Aaron Burr shades her life with tragedy.  But what became of Eliza after that? Here you will find out about her philanthropy, generosity, and gentility that characterized the remainder of her life. Gorgeous illustrations in an Americana style waft us into the era with elegance.  Ages 6 and up.

My women’s history page has lots more brilliant titles so check them out as well!