Brilliant Ideas from Wonderful Women is a collection of 15 highly illustrated, double-page spreads each detailing an idea or invention from a female pioneer during the past 175 years.
Luciano Lozano’s illustrations seem to be created using watercolour or gouache paints in combination with digital techniques, reflecting the mixture of older and more modern ideas within the text. The pictures are a humorous complement to the information on each page. In fact, the illustrations make up most of the content; each double-page mini-biography is less than 200 words in length. The ideas and inventions covered include Kevlar, the dishwasher, disposable nappies, Monopoly and windscreen wipers. The information is written in simple language, making it appropriate for children throughout Key Stage One and Two.
Brilliant Ideas from Wonderful Women is ideal for use in PSHE lessons examining the role of women in society. Some of the women featured were not credited for their designs, which were patented and marketed by men. The only known information about the inventor of the submarine telescope, Sarah Mather, is her name.
One thing I was slightly disappointed by was the lack of more contemporary inventions and discoveries. The most modern of all the ideas featured in the book is a domestic surveillance system from 1966 (which never actually made it to mass market). Notable omissions include Rosalind Franklin, whose work was central to the discovery of the structure of DNA; Gladys West, a mathematician who helped create GPS; Jeanne Villepreux-Power, the inventor of the aquarium; Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and subject of the film Joy; Sarah Breedlove, America’s first female self-made millionaire; and Ada Lovelace, creator of the first computer program. However, this presents an opportunity for children to write their own nonfiction double-page spreads about some of the women left out of the book.
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