Friday, May 25, 2018

Movers and Shakers! Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

Here are 14 young rebels (one just 6 years old, another only 13) who broke down walls to pursue their interests, talents, and rights.

The world is a better place for all of us because they stepped out of the box.

Susan Hood's Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World (Harper, 2018) offers fourteen poems about fourteen women and girls whose actions or lives really broke the mold. There is Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African-American girl who alone walked through a jeering crowd into one of the previously segregated schools of New Orleans and thirteen-year-old Mary Anning, thrilled with the idea of prehistoric fossils beneath her very feet in London, who in 1812 discovered the first gigantic icthyosaur skeleton ever recovered.

Mold-breaking young women were groundbreakers for their gender: Molly Williams, the young black cook for Oceanus Engine Company No. 11 in New York was the only one not sick with flu at the volunteer fire station when the alarm sounded, so she herself dragged the big pumping engine to the site of the fire and extinguished it herself, earning the lifelong title of Volunteer #11 and the only woman firefighter at Oceanus Company until 1982.

In raging flames and choking smoke the brave Molly took the heat.
With hose and axe, she met the blaze to save the house and street.

There was Annette Kellerman, a dedicated nineteen-year-old swimmer who pioneered a sleek one-piece swimsuit for women. Arrested in 1919 for indecency at Revere Beach, Boston, Annette came up with the bold and streamlined swimwear which made it possible for Gertrude Ederle, sans soggy pantaloons, ruffles, and skirts, to become the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926.

Other path-finding young women featured include Frida Kahlo, the first Mexican artist to win a place at the Louvre, nineteen-year old Maya Lin, who won the architectural competition to design the Vietnam War Memorial, reporter Nelly Bly who won the Around the World in 80 days competition in 1890, and Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Author Susan Hood offers varied poetical biographies and informational prose for each woman, and the book is illustrated in the unique styles of fourteen noted women artists such as Melissa Sweet, LeYuen Pham, and Sophie Blackall.

This is a poetic feast for the eyes and an eye-opening look at how girls and women have overcome barriers to be the first and the best at what they accomplished to change the world.

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