Three Cheers for Women! by Marcia Williams
Several publishers have brought out books celebrating women’s roles in history during recent months, aiming to redress the balance of history being largely seen through the eyes of white upper and middle class men. In many ways it’s amazing that this is still necessary but it is only 100 years since women got the vote (in the UK that is and only those over 30) and it’s very positive to have this range of books which highlight the lives of women involved in a variety of spheres. Others include the popular Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books), Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury) and Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (Wren & Rook).
All of these have used illustration to good effect and Marcia Williams’ book is no exception to this. In fact her distinctive comic strip style is at the heart of it. Each woman’s life, from Cleopatra to Malala Yousafzai, is shown in a double page spread, highlighting significant moments with commentary from the central characters in speech balloons. Around the central frame, two children, a mouse and some birds appear on every page, adding additional information about the woman being described and, in some cases, relating their lives to wider historical events.
Marcia Williams has taken care to include women from a range of cultures and countries, especially when the 20th century is reached. It would be really interesting to bring together the recent biographical collections such as this and those mentioned above and look at who is represented in them. Do the same names keep recurring and are more women’s lives being researched and written about for children and young people?
I’ll certainly be including this book when I revise our booklist in anticipation of Women’s History Month in March.