Non-Fiction · Picture Books

Review: Amazing Women by Lucy Beevor and Sarah Green

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Temple Grandin

Amazing Women celebrates the lives and achievements of 101 great women. It features women from different fields and cultures. Modern-day to historical figures. Their lives are related in digestible fact-files which relate their stories as well as key dates. 

The thing I love most about this book is the design. When I saw the front cover I wanted to flick through and read about every one of those women, and the same thing happened when I looked inside. The book is high on ‘flickability’. It is the kind of book you want to thumb through, to flick backwards and forwards between the pages. The pastel colour palette and fantastic illustrations remind of a really modern blog or website. 

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The key message of the book is to be your true self. Every story in the book is inspiring, but the way to achieve great things is not to try to be someone else but to work hard in the areas where you excel. With a large number of books about inspirational women in the market place this is a really good message. A handy resources section at the back gives young readers some ideas of where to look next. This is a lovely addition. Young people with a new interest often don’t know where to turn for more information.

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My only criticism is that the book talks about some women in the present day – what they are doing now and how old they are. Unless new editions are printed this puts a lifespan on the book because this information will date. Nevertheless it is a great title and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone looking to improve their knowledge of influential women.

 

 

 

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Feminist/Gender Equality · Non-Fiction

Review: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls 2

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Once upon a time there was a girl … and she did great things. Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls is the internationally successful hit of 2017. To date a million copies have been sold. Here’s the second volume, in all its glory! Turns out there were more great women that one book could hold. 

img_4894Stories of real women are told in a fairytale tone. Every story follows the same formula: once upon a time there was a girl … and one day something happened to spark her interest … and she became … If you have read John Yorke, you will know all stories follow a similar structure. The effect of writing about real women in this way is extraordinary. You don’t need to know the history or the geography to get into their tales. It is possible to get into every single story without prior knowledge. The best way into a subject can be to relate to a character or an event. 

Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls 2 may introduce readers to new interests. 

The second effect of narrating the stories as a fairytale is empathy. A factfile of dates and events could not have told me that Yeonmi Park grew up believing Kim Jong-Il could read her mind. It could not have given me that insight into life under a dictatorship. 

img_4893Illustrators from around the world have contributed to make this extra-special. I love the variety of art-work. The different styles keep things interesting, and I would buy this book for the illustrations alone. They remind me of vintage posters. Ones you might actually put on your walls. Alongside the illustrations there is a motivational quote from the women. It would be possible to flick through the book and read the quotes when you are in need of motivation. 

img_4895Words highlighted in red are defined in a glossary, and a contents page lists women with their field of excellence next to their names. I was delighted that neither the book nor the contents page is divided by field. There is no sense of one field being pushed over another, no suggestion that one destiny is more likely. Children’s content sometimes makes this mistake, pushing STEM and law over arts-subjects, and anything over stories of adventure. These real-life stories disprove this approach. Every one of these women achieved something great, and every one started by finding:

  • what she was best at 
  • an opportunity or a situation which turned her interest into action. 

The foreword is addressed to children and adults, in response to the phenomenal readership established by Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls. Whoever you are, whatever your situation, it encourages you to REBEL – to find your interests or causes and strive to make something of them. I have never read a book which speaks so directly to so many people. This is our history, our world. These are our stories. Read and rebel. 

Louise Nettleton

Big thanks to Riot Comms for my copy of Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls 2. Opinions my own.