Picture book biographies are fascinating windows into lost or forgotten history of trailblazing women and mighty girls. And the true tales outlined below are sure to inspire readers of all ages.
Who doesn’t love Shark Week? This chomptastic event highlights facts and dispels the fiction surrounding these misunderstood creatures. But there would be no celebration without the work of one pioneering scientist. When most people looked at sharks, they saw ruthless, mindless killing machines. But young Eugenie Clark saw a complex fish with lessons to share with the world. In the 1940s, she defied expectations to become a world-renowned scientist who fearlessly studied her subjects up-close — in the water. Heather Lang’s Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark, complete with thrilling illustrations by Jordi Solano, bring this STEM superhero to life.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist is a powerful story of the civil rights movement told by Cynthia Levinson with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton. The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March saw thousands of children and teens bravely marching in protest to desegregate one of the most violent cities in America. More than 2,500 children were arrested and thrown in jail. Over a week, the jails were filled with children, including nine-year-old Audrey.
After the Montgolfier brothers took to the sky in a hot air balloon in the 18th century, France was gripped with balloon-mania. Everyone wanted a chance to soar through the sky but aeronauts were mostly men until Sophie Blanchard. Matthew Clark Smith’s Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, The First Woman Pilot with illustrations by Matt Tavares tells how as a young child, Blanchard dreamed of touching the clouds. She became one of France’s most famous hot air balloon pilots and logged more than 60 flights.
When seven-year-old Melba Doretta Liston first clapped eyes on a trombone, it was love at first sight. Melba had always had music in her head and, in the trombone, she found a way to share the songs in her heart. There were many who said that the trombone was no instrument for a lady and that a stage was no place for an African-American, but Melba didn’t let anyone get in her way. She stormed the jazz world and collaborated with luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Billie Holiday. Katheryn Russell-Brown’s words and Frank Morrison’s pictures bring this spunky heroine’s story to life in Little Melba and Her Big Trombone.
The story of dismantling school segregation for Latin students is told through the eyes of a young girl in author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh’s Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. Sylvia spoke and wrote perfect English but when her mother tried to enrol her in the local caucasian school in California, the school refused to allow her to attend. Her family and…