Every year, a number of compendiums are published featuring mini-biographies of exceptional women and their achievements.
Today I’ve got five of them which offer a wide variety of life stories for a range of ages, all jauntily illustrated.
Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes who Won Women the Right to Vote, written by Kirsten Gillibrand, illustrated by Maira Kalman
published in 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf
Maira Kalman’s art makes any subject she touches sing with vitality and here, once again, I am bowled over by her punchy use of color, bold line, lovingly-quirky portrayal of humanity, and delightful hand-lettering. Every page of this book greets us with exuberance, optimism, and strength.
Gillibrand highlights the road to women’s suffrage in the United States via cameo biographies of ten diverse, valiant women, then concludes with the 2017 women’s march in Washington, D.C. A final timeline of American history provides room for dozens more short mentions of pivotal women involved in various equal rights efforts.
Inspiring and oh so artistic, for ages 6 and up.
Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison
published in 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
Last year I recommended Vashti Harrison’s first book in a Black History Month post. I was excited to see her second compendium which encompasses a wide range of women from around the globe and across time.
Harrison’s trademark portraits of 36 women welcome us into these short biographical sketches with oodles of charm and smiles of good will. Progressing in chronological order by birth year, these women’s lives span more than 1100 years and criss-cross the globe.
From a ninth century Moroccan educator and philanthropist, to a 20th century Ghanaian entrepreneur, and winding up with current American architect Maya Lin, each account is one informative page long, accessible to ages 7 and up. Eighteen more women get a tiny spotlight in the end pages, and places to see, hear, read about, or research these women’s works are helpfully included.
Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World, written by Katherine Halligan, illustrated by Sarah Walsh
published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Each of the fifty women and girls featured in this gorgeous book gets a roomy, two pages of her own. These are highly-decorated, enticingly laid-out pages that beckon us into each life story with beautiful illustration, photographs, and artifacts.
Halligan has grouped her subjects into five categories — Believe & Lead, Imagine & Create, Help & Heal, Think & Solve, Hope & Overcome — with ten entries each. A wonderful grid of thumbnail portraits in the end pages shows us these fifty fascinating women in chronological order, beginning in 1500 BC and continuing to the present.
Clear engaging writing, a delightful assortment of women, and top-notch design makes this volume a winner for ages 7 and up.
Anthology of Amazing Women: Trailblazers who Dared to be Different, written by Sandra Lawrence, illustrated by Nathan Collins
published in 2017 by little bee books
The only recorded female rune-master in Viking Age Scandinavia. The woman who invented Kevlar. The first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in literature. A groundbreaking Afghani Olympic athlete.
Fifty fascinating women are introduced with a one-page biography and portrait here, as well as 40 more who receive just a tiny spotlight, just enough to make us want to know more! The stylish illustration work here has a more muted palette, and the author includes more women currently working today than some other compendiums, including Beyoncé, Malala, Oprah, and J.K. Rowling.
I think this could certainly be shared with children as young as 7, but it feels like an even better fit for ages 9 or 10 and up.
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women, written by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
published in 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Finally, this sparkling volume dedicated to inventors and swathed in color and panache by illustrator Melissa Sweet. Just look at that tantalizing cover!
When I hear the word inventions, my minds immediately runs to the mechanical or electronic side of things, but Catherine Thimmesh has collected a delightful variety of imaginative, problem-solving, inventive wonders. Chocolate chip cookies, for starters! That has to be one of the best inventions of all time! And what about an idea that transforms orange peels and avocado skins into a substance that can fight extreme drought? That work won a South African teen the grand prize at the Google Science Fair.
With only 15 women featured here, more in-depth accounts of their work are possible. Each is about 4 or 5 heavily-illustrated pages long. A brief explanation of how to go about obtaining a patent, organizations that welcome youthful innovators, and end-papers featuring a timeline mentioning many, many more female inventors, round out the book. It’s a treat especially for young thinker-solver types, ages 10 and up.
You can find my Women’s History posts from earlier this month featuring six fabulous picture book biographies each here and here or search my entire list of Women’s History books reviewed to date on Orange Marmalade.
I hope you’ll come back next week for one more post — my musings on how extraordinary ordinary women are!