For parents looking to inspire young daughters, this book is a joy. It celebrates the lives and achievements of various women over the ages, not only those with trailblazing careers but also those women whose principled actions changed society. Rosa Parks’ dignified stand against racial segregation is one example, also Emmeline Pankhurst, the formidable suffragette, who happens to be a distant relation of this book’s author, Kate Pankhurst.
As well as the high profile figures you might expect, there are relative unknowns, such as Mary Anning. Born in 1799 and from a poor and unschooled background, Mary rose from making a living selling fossils on the beach, to becoming one of the worlds first and foremost palaeontologists. I suspect many adults have never heard of her.
The bright, illustrative format keeps it accessible for younger readers. The bold pictures are interspersed with snippets of information and the imagined thoughts of our heroines. Although this tends to make the page quite ‘busy’, with a lot going on, it delivers the facts in an attention grabbing, punchy way, that avoids wading through interminable text and the dreaded label of ‘worthy’ kids book.
The overall effect is of a happy mix of reference book and warm storytelling. A great book to dip into but also perfect for KS2 school projects.
As Kate Pankhurst writes in her introduction, these women didn’t set out to be thought of as ‘great’.
They achieved extraordinary things, simply by following their hearts, talents and dreams. They didn’t listen when people said they couldn’t do something. They dared to be different.
We should all wish as much for the girls in our lives.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is published by Bloomsbury Childrens, 32 pages.