Fantastically Great Women who Made History

Kate Pankhurst, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 978-1-4088-7698-5, £6.99 pbk

The vision of the Suffragists went beyond achieving the vote, which they saw as the means of effecting positive social change. The contribution that women have made to history is brought

to the fore in Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women who Made History, the follow-up to the hugely successful Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World. The profiles include some less well-known subjects such as suffragette Flora Drummond and it is good to see wide cultural reach with names such as Qiu Jin the Chinese revolutionary and feminist mentioned alongside Sayyida al Hurra, the Queen of Tetouan. The bright design and humorous illustration make this an appealing choice for junior readers.

War Girls Andersen Press, 978-1-7834-4060-3, £7.99 pbk

An analysis success of periods for women’s when

women’s rights have advanced shows a relationship of progress to times of turmoil. It is significant that the


in Britain came shortly after the First World War, when it became abundantly clear that women were able to do the same work as men. War Girls is an excellent short story collection with contributions from writers such as Adele Geras, Mary Hooper, Melvin Burgess and Berlie Doherty. From various perspectives, the heroines n these fine stories are

nurses, drivers, spies, entertainers, and illustrate how women’s lives were shaped and changed by The Great War.

Women in Sport

Rachel Ignotofsky, Wren & Rook, 978-1-5263-6092-2, £12.99 hbk The struggle for


continues today in many spheres of life including sport. Women in Sport, Rachel Ignotofsky’s follow up to the successful Women in Science,

is a

collection of inspiring profiles covering women’s sport from the 1800s to the present day. Tennis player Serena Williams and broadcaster Clare Balding rub shoulders Paralympian Tanni

Grey-Thomson and long-distance swimmer Gertrude Ederle whose words could be the battle cry for all women’s rights campaigners: ‘When someone tells me I can’t do something, that’s when I do it!’ This design-led book is a visual treat that children will want to pore over and revisit many times.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick, Orion Children’s Books, 978-1-7806-2216-3, £7.99 pbk

Education for girls and women was regarded as an important goal for the suffragists. Sadly, universal education is still to be achieved in some parts of the world. Malala Yousafzai’s story is the most powerful reminder of how perilous it can be to protest. There are many recently published books about Malala including the

picture book Malala’s Magic Pencil for young readers. But for this list I have chosen I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World which not only captures Malala’s brave spirit but is a testament to

the support and encouragement

given by her equally brave father and his determination to provide education for girls. With so many achievements to honour, it could be easy to forget that girls and young women today are still socialised into norms of behaviour. The final two books in my selection invite children today to see the many opportunities that are open to them.

What Are You Playing At?

Marie-Sabine Roger and Anne Sol, Alanna Books, 978-1-9078-2502-6, £12.99 hbk

What Are You Playing an outstanding


At? is book,

which is suitable for all ages from 3 upwards. Presented in a simple question and response, format this book invites readers to challenge messages that they receive whether intentionally or intentionally through marketing and media. What makes

this book particularly noteworthy are the photographs showing men and women in a range of jobs. We read, ‘Girls do not play with cars, that would be silly’ then turn the flap to see a female racing driver. This book is as empowering for boys as it is for girls and reminds us that both genders suffer when society has set expectations about the roles they are destined to fulfil.

Strong is the New Pretty

Kate Parker, Workman Publishing, 978-0-7611-8913-8, £13.99 pbk

And finally to the testimony of the children themselves, Strong is the New Pretty subtitled ‘a celebration of girls being themselves’ is a collection of arresting photographic portraits with quotations from girls aged 6 – 18. Organised in chapters with titles such as Confident is Strong, Determined is Strong, Kind is

Strong, Independent is Strong, this book provides evidence of lots of ways to be a strong female in the twenty-first century. Have it as a coffee table book in a school staffroom, or use the photographs to initiate discussion with your own child. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those suffragists of 100 years ago could travel in time to see what the girls in this book are achieving today? We have a lot to thank them for, so let’s share the books and celebrate the legacy!

Nikki Gamble is Director of Just Imagine Story Centre and Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education.

Books for Keeps No.228 January 2018 13

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