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Strong women making an impact 2019

For Women’s History Month, here are four new memoirs and biographies of women who have made a lasting impact in their respective fields. See also our Five Questions interview with Laurie Halse Anderson in this issue; our list of new picture-book bios; the tag women’s history; and KidLitWomen* for more stories of amazing and inspirational women.

Sylvia Acevedo defied expectations growing up in a working-class Mexican American family in 1960s and 1970s Las Cruces, New Mexico. Thanks, in part, to childhood experiences in the Girl Scouts, she became a rocket scientist and is now CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. In her memoir Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, Acevedo doesn’t shy away from matter-of-factly discussing difficult parts of her youth. Occasional black-and-white photographs between chapters add intimacy to her moving autobiographical account. (Clarion, 9–14 years)

In Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice: Her Impact on the Civil Rights Movement, the White House, and the World, Ilene Cooper traces Roosevelt’s path from privileged upbringing to fierce social justice crusader. The First Lady evolves from a suffragist into a staunch advocate for people of color, supporting anti-lynching legislation, integrating the armed forces, and equal benefits from New Deal programs. Accompanied by historical photos and excerpts from Roosevelt’s speeches and letters, this compact biography is a worthwhile introduction to one of America’s most prominent activists. (Abrams, 9–14 years)

Margarita Engle’s Soaring Earth, a companion verse memoir to Enchanted Air, provides a glimpse into her teen years in Los Angeles and early adulthood. Engle addresses head-on the effects of the Vietnam War; the injustices prevalent in society at the time; the resistance of students and workers; and black and brown solidarity. The poems display Engle’s customary sincerity and reflect the parallels and divergences between her two worlds — her Cuban and U.S. American heritages. (Atheneum, 12 years and up)

Author Isabel Quintero and illustrator Zeke Peña‘s 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award winner Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide tells Iturbide’s story in comic-panel format, with striking black-and-white illustrations, high-quality reproductions of her own photographs, and spare first-person narration drawing upon her writing and interviews; interspersed are section introductions in a more conversational third-person, direct-address text. A powerful homage to the five-decade evolution of an artist still working — and still evolving — today. (Getty, 12 years and up)

From the March 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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