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Women’s History Month 2015

In these picture-book biographies perfect for Women’s History Month, young women blaze trails and battle bigotry. From baseball and art to environmentalism and education, these leaders and their triumphs are to be celebrated.

mccully_queen of the diamondEmily Arnold McCully’s Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story introduces a young woman who, at the beginning of the twentieth century, parlays her love for baseball into a successful career. At age eighteen, Lizzie seizes an opportunity to play professional ball. Drawing crowds because of her gender more so than her considerable skill, she’s denied a salary until she fights for equal pay. Impressionistic ink and watercolor illustrations subtly depict Lizzie as standing out from the crowd. Recognizing her passion and finding a way to make it her life’s work is Lizzie’s gift and the heart of McCully’s story. (Farrar, 5–8 years)

paul_one plastic bagIn the 1980s, Isatou Ceesay became concerned with the ever-growing piles of plastic bags along the roadsides of her hometown of Njau, Gambia. When she learned that these non-biodegradable objects were attracting disease-bearing insects and that domestic animals often died after eating them, she decided to do something about it. In One Plastic Bag, author Miranda Paul gives a clear and sensitive account of Ceesay and her fellow activists’ ingenious solution. Illustrator Elizabeth Zunon’s collages, with their vivid colors, elegant patterns, and varied textures — especially those from actual plastic bags — provide a beautiful entry into the inspiring story. (Millbrook, 5–8 years)

kugler_in mary's gardenAs a girl, Mary “was happiest when her hands were busy making, building, creating things.” As she grew up and traveled around the world, those early interests developed into a love for art. In Tina and Carson Kügler’s In Mary’s Garden, artist Mary Nohl (1914–2001) returns to the Wisconsin lake house that she’d helped her father build and begins a lifelong art project there, erecting a menagerie of larger-than-life sculptures from found items and scraps. The Küglers’ digital collages of scratchy, affectionate paintings mirror Mary’s sense of wonder. An afterword offers more details about Nohl’s life and work and a hope for her legacy to endure. (Houghton, 5–8 years)

winter_malalaIn straightforward prose, Jeanette Winter’s Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan introduces young readers to Malala Yousafzai and Iqbal Masih (one side is Malala’s story; flip it over for Iqbal’s), two Pakistani children who fought for justice and who both suffered violence. Iqbal was shot and killed in 1995; Malala survived being shot by the Taliban in 2012 “for speaking out for the right of girls to attend school in Pakistan.” The imagery of a kite in Winter’s poignant illustrations serves as both a metaphor for childhood and as a way to visually connect the two narratives. Though both stories are painful, they can be a great place to start a young activist’s education. (Simon/Beach Lane, 5–8 years)

From the March 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Siân Gaetano About Siân Gaetano

Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.

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Comments

  1. Janet Thompson says:

    Very handy reminder. Thank you.

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