Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review - Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
Date: 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 97
Format: e-book
Source: library

This beautifully illustrated New York Times bestseller introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world.

An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn't always accept them.

The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

You know a picture book is heavy on the text when it takes almost a month to get through it.

However, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is definitely worth a look. It profiles 40 amazing women and girls who were trailblazers for the African American women who followed in their footsteps. I hadn't heard of many of the women who were featured early on in the book (e.g., Phillis Wheatley, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Mary Bowser), even though their stories are amazing. As the book goes on, we start to see some more familiar names, and by the end, I would imagine that most people will have heard of these women (e.g., Oprah Winfrey, Florence Joyner, Dominique Dawes)... which is great, because it shows that the women making important contributions aren't always ignored or pushed into the shadows as they once were. Still, the fact that many of these names aren't household ones is kind of sad. We've got Civil War spies, scientists who developed cures for nasty diseases, psychologists who studied the impact of racial identification in children... There are just so many stories here, laid out in a series of two-page spreads; there's even a section at the back with mini biographies of a few more women that didn't get included in the book. And, like most good non-fiction titles, this book offers some suggestions for further reading, viewing, and watching.

The illustrations are cute, but will probably be viewed as a little "girly". That said, however, this is a book aimed at girls, so the pictures are likely to find wide appeal. Each spread features a picture of the woman or girl, and the text is embellished with little doodles relating to her life. (Below is Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman in the world to receive a pilot's licence... but she had to go to France to do it!)

Overall, this is a really strong non-fiction title that celebrates the contributions of black women and girls. Because of how much text there is, I'd probably recommend it to middle graders, but it could be a fun book for younger kids to read with a parent in smaller doses.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4.17 out of 5

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