More Books for Women's History Month

A few more titles for Women's History Month - a nice little mixed selection from this week's library bag.

Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led To Little Women by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Carlyn Beccia. Walker Children's, 2013.

I'm sure Louisa May Alcott needs little introduction here.  Little Women is a beloved classic.  This picture book deals specifically with Alcott's experience as a nurse during the Civil War, the nightmarish reality of wartime sickness and injury, and the scary bout of typhoid fever that sent Alcott home to her family.  The experience led to the publication of Hospital Sketches, based on the letters she wrote home from the hospital.  The book was a breakthrough for Alcott, helping to define the style she would use for subsequent writings.  When asked to write a "girl's book" - not a task she was particularly excited about - she chose to weave together autobiographical details from her own childhood, but setting the story during the Civil War, one of the first novels to be set during the time of that conflict.

I enjoy Kathleen Krull's style - this is the first of two biographies on today's list by her! - and Beccia's illustrations are lovely.

A scene from "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women," as shown on PBS's American Masters.

 (Top) The Daring Miss Quimby by Suzanne George Whitaker, illustrated by Catherine Stock. Holiday House, 2009.

(Bottom) Brave Harriet by Marissa Moss, illustrated by C.F. Payne. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001.

So here are two books I should have featured a couple of weeks ago, as they are both about another fearless female aviator!  Alas, I discovered them too late, but I am going to feature them now.  Harriet Quimby was the first American woman to earn her pilot's license, and she wanted very much to leave her mark on the world.  On April 16, 1912, she set off from Dover, England, landing on a beach in France, becoming the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.  Her accomplishment was overshadowed, however, by the Titanic disaster.

 Brave Harriet, written by Marissa Moss (author of Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee) is a more compact story, focusing specifically on Quimby's flight across the Channel.  It is told in first person, using a newspaper article written by Quimby as source material.  (Quimby was, among other things, a scenario writer for Biograph Pictures in Hollywood!)  The Daring Miss Quimby is a more conventional biography, giving more details of Quimby's life and death.  (She died only a few months later, when both she and her passenger were ejected from a lurching plane.)  The colorful illustrations match the subject's colorful personality.  Note her famous purple flying suit!

A nice tribute to Harriet Quimby, found on YouTube.

Frida by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Ana Juan.  Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002.

Frida Kahlo, famous Mexican artist, is more than given her due in this beautiful picture book.  This is one we have checked out in the past, because we love Ana Juan.  Frida was Juan's first picture book, and she used traditional characters from Mexican folklore throughout the illustrations.  The book concentrates on Frida's early life, beginning with her imaginary friend (also named Frida), to her childhood battle with polio, to her convalescence and lifelong suffering from a terrible bus accident at the age of 18.  While trapped in bed from sickness and injury, Kahlo would keep herself company with her paints.  The book ends with Kahlo painting through her pain, not going into details of her adult life, such as her famous marriage to Diego Rivera. You can read more about Frida Kahlo at

A preview of PBS's "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo."

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz.  Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996.

Wilma Rudolph is such an inspirational athlete for so many reasons.  Besides being an African-American woman from the segregated South, and besides becoming the first woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games, she was also a polio survivor, who spent years as a child in a heavy leg brace.  I highly recommend this book.  Both the text and illustrations pull you in.

A short documentary featuring an interview with Wilma Rudolph.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner.  Holiday House, 2012.

Rachel Carson loved to write as a child, publishing her first story at age 11, in St. Nicholas Magazine. She became a biology major in college, earning a graduate studies scholarship to John Hopkins.  Carson's love of the natural world and gift for writing led to her career as a nature writer.  Carson became concerned about the widespread use of synthetic pesticides, and their effects on the natural world.  She began to devote her research to the subject, channeling her energies into a book, despite her own failing health.  Silent Spring was published in 1962, and is recognized as one of the first calls to arms in the environmental movement.  Carson lost her battle with cancer in early 1964.  More can be read about Carson, her books, and her work at  This picture book is beautiful, by the way.

A short look at Rachel Carson, made for Earth Day 2013.

There are only a few more days left in March, and I have a few more books to share for Women's History Month.  Stay tuned!

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  1. I love what you 're doing here! So many women, so many great books... This has been my favorite set of books so far, I think. Most of those women I knew nothing about, but the books about the ones I was familiar with (like Alcott and Frida) seem even more appealing. The last one about Rachel Carson looks very interesting too- what a beautiful person and message!
    Your presentation of the books is awesome!

    1. Aww, thanks! I'm having fun with this project. Hooray for books and fabulous female role models. :)

  2. WOW these are so amazing! I am going to find every one of these. I think Julia would adore reading these, and such important messages to hear, we can't just be all fairy tales all the time you know :)

    Every single one of these looks like a stunner!

    1. We all need a break from fairy tales sometime. :) The Frida book is my favorite for the illustrations, while the Wilma Rudolph book really made me appreciate her more. They're all fabulous!

  3. Oooo Frida. She was so interesting. I need to look that one up. And a Louisa May book? NICE! I'm pinning this list too. :)

    1. I already loved the Frida book. I've tried to check out or buy all of Ana Juan's picture books, and this one is particularly gorgeous. :) Thanks!


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