Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, the newest picture book from writer and illustrator Kate Pankhurst, is a glorious celebration of the lives of famous female historical figures. As a descendant of the famous Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, it is clear to see where Pankhurst gets her inspiration for a book such as this, and her skill and talent for telling these women’s stories – stories that in many cases have been kept out of the history books for a long time – is incredible.
The list of women included in this book is extensive: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawea, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank are all given a place in this magnificent history of brilliant and courageous women doing magnificent things. These women all come from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, allowing women whose voices have traditionally not been given room to be heard in history books to be heard.
But what gets me most about this book is its intended audience – children. As a picture book, and a beautifully designed and illustrated one at that, this book is written for children. So rarely are stories like those of the women included in this book shared with children, and I am so endlessly grateful that Kate Pankhurst wrote this book for them. To introduce children to books and stories with these women, to show them how incredible women have been and continue to be, is so vitally important, and Pankhurst’s book is a brilliant part of that journey. When I first received this book for review, the first thing I said to my Mum was “I wish a book like this had been around when I was growing up.” Because, honestly, they weren’t – and it wasn’t really that long ago that I was a young kid looking for strong, intelligent and courageous women to look up to in books. I wish that in my many library visits, I could have found this book on the shelves and found myself in these women. I sincerely hope that libraries all over will take this book into their collection so that little girls the world over can find an array of female role models to look up to.
Even as an adult, reading this book was a fantastic educational experience. There are figures in this book that I never knew about, and even fun facts about famous women I have admired for a long time that I didn’t know. The illustrations were bright and beautifully drawn – with a quirky and charismatic style. There is no attempt to render women as traditionally beautiful in her illustrations, but rather a desire to make each woman unique and stylise her to best represent her story and the remarkable things she did in her lifetime.
On behalf of all the little girls (and boys) of the world, I am endlessly grateful for Kate Pankhurst and her work in creating this picture book. If even one little girl finds a feminist hero in her library because of this book, her work will have paid off.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World (RRP $14.99) is available in all good book stores from October 2016, or directly from the publisher, Bloombury Publishing/Allen & Unwin, here.
As always, INWORDSANDINK encourages its readers to buy from, and support their local independent book stores.
Thank you once again to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World. Whilst I was sent the book for reviewing purposes, I was not in any way paid or financially obligated to write this review.
© Hayley New 2016