Volume One of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, a collection of 100 tales of extraordinary women, was one of the publishing sensations of 2017. Showcasing real women of courage and ingenuity, and riding the wave of thezeitgeist, the authors produced a beautiful factual book that has been translated around the world. A wonderful thing then happened, a clamour of readers’ voices calling for more tales, and offering up their own heroines. Here, in Volume Two, we see the results of a very happy collaboration.
Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo have struck gold here. Their quest to ignite young girls’ imaginations has had phenomenal results. When you walk into a bookshop and see piles of ‘inspirational literature’ for girls, it is they who set the benchmark. The Rebel Girls books are gorgeously produced. Each double page consists of a notable woman, and a vivid portrait in text and illustration.
I love how each one starts in time-honoured fairytale tradition, ‘Once upon a time…,’but then launches into something thrilling and unexpected.
Once upon a time, a housekeeper called Jeanne disguised herself as a man and sailed around the world.
Some of the women we all recognise, such as J.K Rowling and Beyonce, but others have been unsung until now. Anyone heard of Virginia Hall, the spy with the wooden leg named Cuthbert? I was particularly struck by Merritt More, a quantum physicist who is also a ballerina. She has performed actual dance pieces exploring quantum physics concepts!
From all five continents, this group of heroines includes such diverse occupations as poets, skateboarders, fire fighters and activists.
Once there was a girl who was told she didn’t matter.
That girl was Rigoberta Menchu Tum, and that girl went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Touchingly, on page 202, there is a blank space. It’s waiting for the reader’s story and portrait. An uplifting gift for the girls in your life.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is published by Timbuktu Labs, 224 pages.