Books about Remarkable Women
Welcome to Women’s History Month, May 2022. Young readers (and their adults!) are sure to enjoy learning about trailblazing, visionary world-changing women. These beautifully illustrated picture book biographies are also good for year-round reading. Enjoy some recent favorites, which I picked especially for you.
Book Giveaway (ended 3-31-22: Winner, Kristen Sipper!):
The Girl Who Could Fix Anything:
Beatrice Shilling, World II Engineer
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The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer. Mara Rockliff. Ill. Daniel Duncan. 2021. Candlewick Press.
I’ve always been captivated by people who are handy with tools and can fix things (and I’m pretty good at breaking things). Beatrice Shilling (1909-1990) is one of those women, and I bet she could fix anything I could break! Clever with tools, she bought her first secondhand motorcycle at age fourteen. She quickly learned to take it apart and put it together again. After college, Beatrice became an engineer in the Royal Aircraft. Of course, she creatively fixed an engine problem in Hurricanes and Spitfires (fighter planes) with a special part that she fashioned out of metal–and helped Britain win the war. Detailed and colorful digitally-created illustrations enhance this inspirational story. Back matter contains an author’s note and a list of selective sources for further research. Long live handy girls! (By way of contrast, my brother Gary was the opposite of Beatrice. He could dismantle anything with a wrench—bicycles, clocks, radios—but, alas, the parts always ended up in a paper bag in the garage!)
From a Small Seed: The Story of Eliza Hamilton. Camille Andros. Ill. Tessa Blackham. 2019. Henry Holt and Company.
I’ve seen the musical Hamilton at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood twice. Each time was a thrill, and I especially enjoyed the appearances by the character Eliza Hamilton, aka Eliza Schuyler (listen to Schuyler Sister song from Hamilton here). You can imagine how intrigued I was by this picture-book biography about Eliza Hamilton, a humanitarian who created the first private orphanage in New York City. Yes, her husband, Alexander Hamilton, was an orphan and that may have spurred her interest in this project. Ever since she was a young girl, Eliza Hamilton hoped to help people in need, and that’s exactly what she did throughout her life. Simple lyrical text and bright illustrations are sure to captivate young readers.
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time. Saira Mir. Ill. Aaliya Jaleel. 2019. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster.
And, of course, I was inspired by the nineteen powerhouse Muslim women who made diverse contributions in so many ways. I’m sure young readers (and their adults!) are going to enjoy learning about remarkable and visionary women in these beautifully-illustrated picture-book biographies! Nineteen powerhouse Muslim women of the twenty-first century courageously persevered and rose up to make their voices heard in such areas as culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, and activism. These women are truly inspirational role models for young girls around the world.
Anna & Samia: The True Story of Saving a Black Rhino. Paul Meisel. 2019. Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan.
Next, the story of Anna, a conservationist, who rescued an infant rhino in Kenya, took me back to a teaching assignment in Zimbabwe where I met my first rhino, face-to-face, three feet away. They’re really big and intimidating up close (but cute in cartoons). This is the true story of a wildlife conservationist, Anna Merz, who saved an orphaned infant rhinoceros found in a Kenyan sanctuary. After raising Samia for the first three years of its life, she released the black rhino back into that sanctuary to be with the other rhinos. Evocative illustrations express the special relationship Anna shared with Samia. Biographical backmatter discusses the plight of endangered rhinos.