It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
A month ago, we announced that we will be doing a Year Of Women Reading Women for 2019 #WomenReadWomen2019. This does not mean, however, that we will stop having quarterly reading themes – far from it. For the first quarter of the year, we are proud to announce that we will be celebrating:
Warrior Women: The Woman Leads the Struggle – Female Voices and Social Justice In Literature.
Thus, we are looking for books written (and illustrated) by female creators on the following themes:
- Feminism and its various forms
- Female activists and women revolutionaries
- Women warriors, female fighters
- Rebel females who have a thirst for social justice
- Female Voices of Resistance
We are specifically looking for stories about women written/created by women – and read by the GatheringBooks women. Admittedly, I am cheating just a wee bit with the second book I am featuring here (What Would She Do?) since it is illustrated by various artists/illustrators, a few of whom are males. However, since it is still 31 December (hehehe), I will do my best to follow very stringently our dictum from 1 January until end of 2019. A Blessed And Prosperous New Year to one and all!
Written by: Chelsea Clinton Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Published by: Philomel Books (2018)
ISBN: 0525516999 (ISBN13: 9780525516996). Borrowed a copy from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.
Last year, I reviewed Clinton and Boiger’s She Persisted alongside Kitaiskaia and Horan’s Literary Witches (see my post here). It was my feature of both books that inspired me to conceptualize our present reading theme of devoting an entire year just highlighting female voices.
One of the things I mentioned in my review of She Persisted is that it is too American – a perception that did not escape the makers of the book, because they immediately came up with a much-needed and celebrated sequel.
What I found to be particularly appealing about this book is that it features not the usual women, but a few whom I do not know about. There is Sor Juana Ines De la Cruz from Mexico who wanted to go to school, so much so that she would even go as far as disguise herself as a boy in order to go to university.
I also got to know Kate Sheppard, a suffragist from New Zealand, who persisted in providing women (including indigenous women) the right to vote. There is also Mary Verghese from India, a young physician who persisted in her profession despite her losing the use of her legs; Aisha Rateb from Egypt who wanted to become a Judge, and Leyma Gbowee, a trauma counselor from Liberia who helped various children affected by conflict.
While this collection still contains familiar names such as Wangari Maathai, Malala Yousafzai, and even J. K. Rowling – it is refreshing in that it introduces young readers to even more tenacious females from different parts of the globe, who are determined to make the world a much better place, either through magical stories, discovering comets and elements, or simply by honing their skills and intellect to such a level of expertise that it glows.
Written by: Kay Woodward Illustrated by: Various Illustrators (Andrew Archer, Kelly Thompson, Anna Higgie, Pietari Posti, Jessica Singh, Sofia Bonati, Jonny Wan, Susan Burghart)
Published by: Scholastic Inc (2018)
ISBN: 1338216406 (ISBN13: 9781338216400). Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.
This collection attempts to provide an expansive overview of trailblazing rebel women from 69 BCE (Cleopatra from Egypt) and 43 CE (Trung sisters from Vietnam) to the young influential ladies of today with Malala Yousafzai (1997) and Emma Watson (born 1990).
2018 seems to have been the year when a great deal of female biographies from antiquity to now were published. This is, perhaps, to be expected given how the world was expecting a formidable female leader, a veritable grown-up, to lead the free world; except that something else was elected instead. This book is only one among many, mostly voices of resistance, lives of female revolutionaries, published in 2018, which we will be happy to feature here in the coming weeks.
While this book contains the usual suspects of rebel women from Frida Kahlo to Joan of Arc, Ada Lovelace to Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai to Rosa Parks and Marie Curie – they are mixed up with a few names I am not familiar with. I especially liked knowing about Vietnamese icons, the Trúng sisters, who lived in 43 CE and led the rebellion against the Chinese. Apparently, it can be done – and by women, at that!
While I am familiar with Murasaki Shikibu’s work (I own three different versions of The Tale Of Genji, one of those is a graphic novel adaptation, another a two-volume Folio edition), this is the first time that I have seen her life story and accomplishments included in an anthology of trailblazing rebel women.
Another Japanese woman made it to the list, Junko Tabei, a mountain climber, who became “the first woman to climb the tallest peak on each continent – collectively known as the Seven Summits.”
The Queen of the Curve, Zaha Hadid, the “Starchitect” from Egypt (and Britain where she lived) is another unfamiliar name to me, and one who is definitely worth noting. Her architectural designs are said to defy conventions and feel almost like poetry.
What is especially interesting about this book is its format. It begins with a less than 100-word snappy and chatty description of each rebel woman with a gorgeous illustration (see above image), followed by a one-page biography including details of when said rebel woman was born (or died), her nationality, and profession. Then following the theme of the book, there is a brief and highly contemporary Q and A which presents real-life scenarios that most young girls are most likely facing with the question: What Might Judit Do? (see sample below).
I personally find this to be a highly effective format, as it brings these larger-than-life woman personalities closer to young readers, rendering them a vulnerability that young readers can resonate with. Each snippet ends with a hopeful and courageous note as to how these difficulties can be overcome, by seeing what these women would most likely do given similar circumstances. Definitely a must-have title for all readers, boys and girls alike.
#WomenReadWomen2019: 1 / 2 of 25 (country: USA – Clinton and Boiger | United Kingdom – Kay Woodward)