A few weeks ago, I review The Changing Girl and now I have the writer of the comic series here to answer a few questions. Cecil Castellucci is an author of young adult novels and comic books. Titles include Boy Proof, The Year of the Beasts (illustrated by Nate Powell), First Day on Earth, Rose Sees Red, […]
Here’s a wonderful phrase I didn’t expect to be writing – there are far too many picture book biographies of incredible, inspiring females for me to include them all in a single list. What a wonderful predicament to be in! Now there is still work to be done – the majority of picture book biographies featuring female protagonists that I’ve found tend to feature white, able-bodied, presumably straight individuals. However, there has been great progress made towards evening out the biographical playing field, and I’m thrilled to have so many wonderful offerings to choose from when booktalking.
Here are a handful of picture book biographies celebrating strong, intelligent, creative, hardworking, world-changing females to share with the young people in your life!
Note: These are listed in no particular order – they’re all fantastic books worth sharing.
Mary Edwards Walker was one of the first female doctors in the United States, and was a no-nonsense, pants-wearing suffragist. She was also a commissioned doctor in the Union army, and tended to the wounded on the battlefields of the Civil War, for which she was awarded a Medal of Honor. An inspiring female who challenged gender norms and expectations.
Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully
Margaret E. Knight was a visionary inventor, and many of the machines and tools she created are still in use today. When a man tried to claim ownership of one of her inventions, claiming that, as a woman, she “could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities” of the machine she created, Mattie fought back, and later earned herself the nickname of “Lady Edison”.
Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
Born in 1868, Henrietta Leavitt was a pioneering female scientist who revolutionised our understanding of the size and scale of the universe, and was hailed by one of her contemporaries as “one of the most important women ever to touch astronomy”. Henrietta challenged societal expectations of female behaviour and refused to allow her gender to limit her intellectual pursuits.
Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden, Mary Kay Kroeger
Bessie Coleman had big dreams, and the determination, willpower and sheer grit to make those dreams come true. She rose from a poor childhood working in the fields to become the first African-American, male or female, to earn a pilot’s license. Bessie’s story proves that dreams can set you on your path, but it’s hard work and perseverance that will take you to the finish line.
Women aren’t supposed to become scientists, right? Wrong! Eugenie Clark fell in love with the ocean at an early age, and she battled sexism and racism to become one of the world’s leading marine biologists, pursuing her passion for studying and protecting sharks.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo
As a child, Anna May Wong dreamed of a life far beyond her parents’ laundromat in Los Angeles. Anna May was going to go places – she was going to be a movie star! But the 1930s was a difficult time for Asian-American actors, with few meaningful roles available, and discrimination rife. Anna May refused to give up on her dream, though, and her unrelenting hard work and dedication to her craft led her to become the first Asian-American film star.
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull
When Wilma contracted polio as a child, doctors said she would likely never walk again, let alone run. But Wilma never let anyone tell her what she could or couldn’t do, and she went on to become the first American woman to win three Olympic medals in a single games.
Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
In 1884, years before women even had the right to vote, Belva Lockwood did something extraordinary, even unthinkable – she ran for President of the United States of America! Lockwood spent much of her life defying convention – she went to college, became a lawyer, and argued cases in the Supreme Court. She never stopped fighting for what she believed, and helped set the stage for future generations of female lawmakers.
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick
Effa Manley loved baseball. She loved it so much, and was willing to work so hard to be a part of it, that she would one day become the owner of a baseball team, and was thefirst—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And there you have it – just a handful of wonderful picture book biographies about inspiring females in a variety of eras and fields, representing just the tip of the iceberg! What are some of your favourite female-focused picture book biographies? Let me know in the comments below!
Let the self-shaming begin, I suppose. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Janet The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee. Nafiza convinced me to read it (and gave me her copy!), and I loved it. The writing was beautiful and complex, the plot twisty, the relationships reluctant and developing… but large swaths of the plot and most characters’ names […]
Q: What kind of research did you do for The Hazel Wood? In particular, what legends and myths did you draw from to create the enchanting fae world? A: Though I didn’t do research explicitly for The Hazel Wood, it’s definitely a product of my lifetime of reading. As a kid I devoured the Grimm […]
Hardcover, 368 pages Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Flatiron Books Source: Raincoast Books The Hazel Wood features a girl who does not always know what to do with the anger that grips her, a mother who goes missing, and a dead grandmother. Now dead grandmothers aren’t very much out of the norm in fictional world but […]
Every year they gather, while the girls shoot their arrows and the boys hunt them out. The air is riddled with spiteful shadows – the wounds and fears and furies of a village year. On a remote and unforgiving island lies a village unlike any other: Neverness. A girl is snatched by a water bull […]
“Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new […]
Aside from our regularly scheduled reading, that is. 🙂 Nafiza I started working for Vancouver Writers Fest this year so one of my bookish resolutions is to do my best at my job which involves books and writers and readers. To revise my current work in progress (THE WILD ONES) and BE DONE WITH IT, […]
Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson Hardcover, 40 pages Expected publication: February 20th 2018 by Clarion Books Source: Raincoast Books This was a fave. As the title suggests, this title follows a little girl who creates art anywhere she can using materials that other people may dismiss as ordinary. The book pays an homage to creativity […]
[Spindle Fire #2] A curse comes undone. A kingdom shatters. But some bonds can’t be broken. Princess Aurora, torn from the dream world, plots to assassinate the faerie queen Malfleur, only to confront temptations she never expected. Isabelle, meanwhile, opens her heart to Prince William as they attempt to unite their kingdoms and wage war […]
“The only thing you can count on is that the gods make other plans.” Janie Chang’s Dragon Springs Road was one of my favourite reads of 2017. I never got to talk about it, so I figured it was high time I remedied that. At the turn of the 20th century in Shanghai, Jialing is abandoned by […]