As a mom to two girls, I can’t help but gravitate toward the picture books featuring strong, determined girls. Two fun ones have recently come home from the library that star girls striving for change although in different ways and different time periods. One is a humorous fictional story, and the other is a cleverly designed non-fiction book packed with historical information and yes, even some humor.
Imogene’s Last Stand, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Schwartz & Wade Books (2009)
Meet Imogene Tripp, pint-sized history buff who lives in the tiny, present day, New Hampshire town of Liddleville. She is dismayed at the deterioration of the town’s abandoned historical society and becomes determined to revive it and share her love of the town’s history with fellow citizens. Despite all her efforts to revive the place she soon learns it is destined to be demolished for, of all things, a shoe lace factory. She begins her strong-willed campaign to save the building from destruction quoting the determined, fighting words of many historical figures. Her father accompanies her on many of her efforts, but quietly sits back, allowing Imogene to lead the way. The historical references are told with spunk and well supported by Carpenter’s humorous pen and ink illustrations.
Imogene’s spunky flare is perfectly captured in one scene from the book, with Imogene’s fist flying defiantly in the air, as she leaves from a disappointing meeting with the town mayor :
Out on the sidewalk, Imogene fumed. “I won’t let it happen! In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, ‘I have not yet begun to fight!'”
Cute and humorous, this book is filled with lots of historical references and mini-bios on those people that she quotes and historical events she references.
Recommend: ages 7+
Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution
written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Matt Faulkner ~
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division (2008)
Indendent Dames is a fantastic informational picture book about the women of the Revolutionary War. With humor, it points out that so much of what we read and hear about the Revolutionary War focuses on the famous men who fought either on battle fields or on political fronts, but sadly the contributions of the women are missing from those stories.
As Anderson spunkily writes:
Hello? How about the women?
What about the girls?
They wanted a free country too. They worked, they argued, they fought, and they suffered-just like the men and the boys.
They didn’t teach you this yet?
From there, the book goes on to detail the many roles that women played in the war and cites actual individual’s efforts, many of which were groundbreaking for the time and gender. Humor is infused through the illustrations and amusing sidebar conversations of the drawn characters. Along the bottom of the page is a detailed timeline starting with important pre-war events and ending with women attaining the right to vote in 1920. At the end of the book, the author includes short bios on many of these important women. This book would most certainly be at home in a classroom studying American History, but I think it’s a wonderful way to share a different perspective on this interesting time period and the role of determined women.
Recommend: ages 9+