We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Written and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Published by Little Brown Young Readers (2017).
ISBN: 1478999500 (ISBN13: 9781478999508) Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2018), NAACP Image Award for Children (2018)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This is a nonfiction title – probably targeted for middle-grade readers – that focuses primarily on accomplishments done by 40 amazing African American women throughout history from as early on as 1788 and the latest one born in 1960. What started off as a mini-project of sorts that Vashti Harrison posts to social media as part of Black History Month – eventually turned into this thoughtful curation of females who were bold enough to chart a path where none existed previously.
As Harrison noted in her Introduction:
In a society where being black and female meant being an outsider or sometimes invisible, these women dared to go after what they wanted, to demand what they deserved. Some of them were reluctant leaders, while others were not even conscious of their bravery, but their legacies live on to pave the way for more of us to follow.
While there were familiar names included in this compilation of mini-biographies such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Wilma Rudolph, Rosa Parks – among others; there were also a few unknown-to-me females such as the image I shared above, or the woman I am sharing below:
I love the fact that the women are coming from very diverse fields and disciplines – and the fact that there were teachers and artists and writers as can be seen above. I also thought that the artist captured the essence of each woman in the way that they were portrayed.
My only peeve, however, and I see this being shared by other Goodreads reviewers as well, is that I would have wanted to see their woke faces, rather than have them demurely looking down, as if in compliance, resignation, or acceptance. I am aching to see fierce, bold, brazen eyes staring down the inevitable difficulties encountered with the intersectionality of race, gender, and status all coming together and crushed by their indomitable faith and piercing intelligence. How visually arresting it would have been to see their defiant eyes raised high.
Teachers would be happy to take note that there is a list of References found at the end of the book for further reading, alongside a Glossary for those unfamiliar with some of the terms used in the book.