Shelf Awareness cheers Women's History Month with these stand-out children's and YA books that tell powerful stories about woman scientists, superheroes, space travelers and Notorious RBG.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may not be "a rock star, a queen, a goddess," but to countless women--and men--who revere her for her work on behalf of the rights of all U.S. citizens, she is a hero. In I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 6-9, 9781481465595, September 20, 2016), a picture-book biography by former lawyer Debbie Levy and illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley, readers learn about the determined little girl who objected to "creaky old ideas," unfairness and inequality, and who grew up to be one of the most influential and respected people in American government--and beyond.
Editor Kelly Jensen brings together 44 vivacious and diverse voices in Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World (Workman, $16.95, paperback, 240p., ages 12-up, 9781616205867, January 24, 2017). It's a scrapbook-style teen guide to feminism, 21st-century style, that talks about feminism, identity, gender, sexuality, relationships, ambition, faith and much more. With FAQs, interviews, cartoons, suggested reading and essays by senators, bestselling authors and illustrators, educators, civil liberties activists, a Muslim blogger and a Sierra Leone-born ballerina, this lively, educational and entertaining compilation will captivate readers.
In spite of historic gender-based obstacles, there have always been girls and women whose curiosity about the natural world leads them to science. Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science (Atheneum, $16.99, hardcover, 208p., ages 10-up, 9781481465656, September 20, 2016) is a collection of verse-stories about three such young women. In elegant, absorbing poems, Jeannine Atkins writes about Maria Merian, whose illustrations of metamorphosing caterpillars challenged 17th-century ideas about the life cycle of insects. Mary Anning collected fossils in the early 1800s as "curiosities" or "wonders," until she unearthed the first ichthyosaur ever discovered. And Maria Mitchell, after a childhood teaching herself mathematics and helping her mapmaker father make star charts for sailors, discovered a new comet in the mid-1800s. Young scientists-in-the-making will be proud to claim any one of these historic trailblazers as a role model.
With section headings like "Gritty Girls," "Peace Heroines" and "Outstanding Animals," Stephanie Warren Drimmer's The Book of Heroines: Tales of History's Gutsiest Gals (National Geographic, $14.99, hardcover, 176p., ages 8-12, 9781426325571, November 8, 2016) is a bold, bright collection, packed with photos and illustrations of impressive women who have changed the world. Athletes, world leaders, freedom fighters, space pioneers... even everyday people (and animals!) are portrayed in splashy two-page spreads, along with occasional "Daring Dudes" sidebars featuring male heroes. From ancient mythical warriors like Athena to present-day "science superstars" like Sara Seager, these heroines will thrill and inspire girls--and boys.
Naturalist and artist Anna Comstock (1854-1930) defied the social conventions of her day, turning her intense lifelong curiosity about the natural world into an untraditional career as scientific illustrator and nature educator. In the picture-book biography Out of School and into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story (Sleeping Bear, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 6-10, 9781585369867, March 15, 2017), nature and science writer Suzanne Slade tells the naturalist's story in lyrical text ("She loved to hold [nature] close in her fingers, she wanted to feel it squish between her toes"), including quotations from the subject's own writing. Jessica Lanan's lovely watercolors, including some reprints of Comstock's engravings, illustrate a life spent embracing nature.
Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History (Ten Speed, $15.99, hardcover, 112p., ages 10-up, 9780399578861, September 27, 2016) is a treasury of gorgeously illustrated, engaging essays commemorating women's achievements around the world and throughout history, all well researched by author Kate Schatz. Readers will meet Enheduanna, the world's oldest known author, who lived 4,300 years ago in Mesopotamia, and Marta Vieira da Silva, the greatest female soccer player in the world, born in Brazil in 1986. Miriam Klein Stahl's striking papercut illustrations, set in black and white against bold solid-color backgrounds, capture the strength and fierceness of these 40 diverse women. Fans of Rad American Women A-Z will jump at the chance to go global with rad women both known and new to them. --Emilie Coulter, freelance editor and reviewer
Children's Books: Celebrate Women's History Month