As Sandra Lawrence says in her introduction to this beautifully presented book, the women selected are ‘’only the tip of an incredible iceberg’’ and there is not enough room to include all the brilliant women she would have liked to celebrate. Nonetheless, this anthology contains a diverse and fascinating range of figures from the past and present who have achieved in a variety of fields.
There are eight sections in the book: Art and Design, History, Politics, Science, Sports, Music, Film and TV, Literature and Business so there are subject areas here to appeal to all tastes and interests. The women featured range from those more regularly included in biographies for children such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai and J K Rowling and less well-known figures, for example, Jeanne Baret and Rita Levi-Montalcini. This is a book for a wide audience as I learned about explorers and scientists whose names were new to me.
Each category begins with two pages providing a number of thumbnail biographies, accompanied by a small portrait, which offers a taster for each section. The women on the following pages have a whole page devoted to each of their biographies with a full-colour portrait on the opposite page. This form of presentation encourages both browsing and a more structured investigation by category. The writing style is engaging for children and there is a useful glossary at the end of the book listing words and terms that may be unfamiliar to young readers, such as homophobia, philanthropy, sickle-cell anaemia and transgender. The contents page is structured to enable searching for entries by subject area but there is no alphabetical index. The illustrations by Nathan Collins are appealing and colourful and the overall design of the book is tempting for children.
Sandra Lawrence’s epilogue urges her readers to ‘’take the opportunities we are given and to create opportunities that don’t yet exist.’’ This inspiring collection of women serves as a reminder of what can be achieved and the book would be a valuable addition to primary school libraries and classrooms.
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These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.