Tuesday 25 August 2020

The Girl Who Rode a Shark

Finished August 23
The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women by Ailsa Ross, illustrated by Amy Blackwell

This is a fantastic book that highlights contemporary and historical women who've done interesting things. The book is divided into six main sections by genre. The sections are Artists, Pioneers, Scientists, Activists, Athletes, and Seekers. Each woman gets a one page biographical summary, and a one page illustration of them engaged in their work or activity. Sometimes map drawings are included as well. At the end of each biographical summary, other women that have similar activities or accomplishments are mentioned. A map at the beginning of each section identifies the origins of the women covered in that section.
The introduction outlines the purpose of the book, to show girls women's amazing achievements across the ages in order to provide inspiration, to show them the possibilities open to them.
Artists profiles women writers, painters, photographers, dancers, and musicians. Here we have Lady Sarashina, the first travel writer, who lived in the 11th century; Marianne North, the 19th century flower painter; Isabella Bird, the 19th century photojournalist; Nellie Bly, the reporter who wrote about the world; Zora Neale Hurston, anthropologist and writer; Freya Stark, travel writer and flower farmer; Emily Hahn, a writer who traveled through Africa and documented her travels; Josephine Baker, cabaret singer, activist, and spy; and Mihaela Noroc, photographer;
Pioneers profiles women who blazed trails, making a path for other women to follow. Here are Teuta, pre-Christian pirate queen; Isobel Gunn, 19th century Canadian wilderness explorer; Sacagawea, 18th and 19th century teen expedition guide; Amelia Earhart, pioneer pilot; Beryl Markham, record-setting pilot; Ada Blackjack, expedition crewmember and castaway survivor; Lucy Nabiki Takona, safari guide; and Aisholpan Nurgaiv, teenage eagle hunter.
Scientists profiles women who have voyaged from deep seas to space to understand the world. Here are Maria Sibylla Merian, the 17th and 18th century painter who documented butterflies; Jeanne Baret, the 18th century explorer who was the first woman to sail around the world; Wang Zhenyi, the 18th century astronomer; Ynes Mexia, scientific explorer and botanist; Sylvia Earle, underwater biologist; Roberta Bondar, first neurologist in space; Nalini Nadkarni, dancer and treetop scientist; and Bolortsetseg Minjin, paleontologist  and educator.
Activists profiles women who've spoken up, surmounted barriers, and fought injustice. Here are Naomi Wadler, superstar activist for black girls; Joan of Arc, 15th century teenage warrior; Nzinga, 16th and 17th century queen and warrior; Bessie Coleman, first black female pilot; Whina Cooper, Maori activist for land rights; Gertrude Blom, anthropologist and early environmental activist; Shannon Koostachin, indigenous education activist, Noor Inayat Khan, Indian princess and secret agent; Anita Roddick, entrepreneur and ethical cosmetic advocate; and Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize winner and advocate for survivors of conflict and disaster.
Athletes profiles women who pushed their limits in pursuit of goals and ambitions. Here are Annie Londonderry, the first woman to circumnavigate the world by bicycle; Diana Nyad, champion long distance swimmer; Cheryl Strayed, writer and hiker; Kimi Werner, chef and shark rider; Silvana Lima, surfer; Arunima Sinha, amputee who climbed Everest; Mira Rai, soldier and trail racer; Laura Dekker, solo world sailor; Ashima Shiraishi, rock climber; and Jade Hameister, polar explorer.
Seekers profiles women who journeyed for a purpose. Here are Isabel Godin, 18th century woman who crossed the Amazon rainforest; Hester Stanhope, 18th and 19th century woman who became known as Queen of the Desert; Alexandra David-Neel, opera singer and Buddhist adventurer; Isabelle Eberhardt, writer and explorer of the Sahara desert; Robyn Davidson, crosser of the Australian desert; Manon Ossevoort, who drove a tractor from Europe to the South Pole; and Nujeen Mustafa, wheelchair refugee from Syria.
At the back of the book is a glossary that covers scientific and historical terms used here; a list of indigenous people referred to in the book; and a short summary about the changing nature of geography.
I loved the diversity of the woman chosen for this book, the way that it didn't chose women that we already hear a lot about (although they are mentioned as others to look at); and the inclusion of both historical and contemporary examples.
The author, Ailsa Ross, lives in Canada and is a human rights advocate and the illustrator, Amy Blackwell used her skills to make these women come to life and place them in their world. Fantastic resource for any parent or library.

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