Tag Archives: women’s history

Standing Up Against Hate by Mary Cronk Farrell

Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Changed the Course of WWII by Mary Cronk Farrell. January 8, 2019. Harry N. Abrams, 208 p. ISBN: 9781419731600.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4.

Standing Up Against Hate tells the stories of the African American women who enlisted in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in World War II. They quickly discovered that they faced as many obstacles in the armed forces as they did in everyday life. However, they refused to back down. They interrupted careers and left family, friends, and loved ones to venture into unknown and sometimes dangerous territory. They survived racial prejudice and discrimination with dignity, succeeded in jobs women had never worked before, and made crucial contributions to the military war effort. The book centers around Charity Adams, who commanded the only black WAAC battalion sent overseas and became the highest ranking African American woman in the military by the end of the war. Along with Adams’s story are those of other black women who played a crucial role in integrating the armed forces. Their tales are both inspiring and heart-wrenching. The book includes a timeline, bibliography, and index.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 8))
Grades 5-8. Throughout history, women have often faced limited futures. Before WWII, most women were encouraged to get married and have children. Often, educated women were allowed careers only as teachers; for black women, teaching in underfunded segregated schools was a bleak, monotonous future. With war came opportunity: though they would not make rank or receive equal pay, women were encouraged to join the military, and they began bringing about a change in perception as to what women were capable of achieving. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was begun to help usher in this new change, though, unfortunately, it brought about more problems—segregation and racism ran rampant among the officers and enlisted. Still, black women enlisted by the droves, leaving their children with relatives in order to build them a better future. Extensive back matter, which includes a time line and notes on the primary sources used, will help guide readers as they explore how black women took advantage of these opportunities to help drive integration forward. An adventurous ride through the history of black women pioneers.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2018)
African-American women fought for freedom at home and abroad as they served their country during World War II.When the United States Army found itself in need of personnel who could do work that would free men to report to combat, it established first the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps and then the Women’s Army Corps. Black leaders were already encouraging more wartime opportunities for African-Americans and sought to use this innovation to help end segregation. Civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune pushed for integration of the corps, but the country’s official “separate but equal” policy stood, although a quota of black women received officer’s training. The women who responded to the call were well familiar with the racial mores of the times, but the insults they endured hurt. Nevertheless, they worked and trained hard and put forth every effort to succeed, sometimes risking court martial for standing up for themselves. When they were called for overseas duty, the 6888th Central Postal Battalion performed their duties so well in Birmingham, England, that they went on to another assignment in France. Importantly, Farrell brings in the voices of the women, which provides clarity and understanding of what they experienced. She also highlights the role of black newspapers in keeping the community informed about the difficulties they often faced. The text is richly supported with archival photographs. The importance of this story is amplified by the inspiring forward by Maj. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson, Army (Ret.), who makes a direct link between the determined struggles of those described and the achievements of African-American women in today’s U.S. military. The stories in this valuable volume are well worth knowing. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography; index and forward not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

I’m an award-winning author of Children’s/YA books and former journalist with a passion for stories about people facing great adversity with courage. Writing such stories has shown me that in our darkest moments we have the opportunity to discover our true identity and follow an inner compass toward the greater good.

Both my fiction and non-fiction titles feature little-known true stories of history based on thorough research. Most include an author’s note, bibliography and further resources, but they are not dry, scholarly tomes! Confronting grief, adversity and failure in my own life, enables me to write stories with an authentic emotional core.

My books have been named Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, SPUR Award for Best Juvenile Fiction about the American West, Bank Street College List of Best Children’s Books, and NY Public Library Best Books for Teens. My journalistic work has received numerous awards for excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists and two Emmy nominations.

Her website is www.marycronkfarrell.net.

Around the Web

Standing Up Against Hate on Amazon

Standing Up Against Hate on Barnes and Noble

Standing Up Against Hate on Goodreads

Standing Up Against Hate on LibraryThing

Standing Up Against Hate Publisher Page

 

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History vs. Women by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams

History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don’t Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams. October 2, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 128 p. ISBN: 9781250146731.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1230.

Rebels, rulers, scientists, artists, warriors and villains

Women are, and have always been, all these things and more.

Looking through the ages and across the globe, Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency, along with Ebony Adams PHD, have reclaimed the stories of twenty-five remarkable women who dared to defy history and change the world around them. From Mongolian princesses to Chinese pirates, Native American ballerinas to Egyptian scientists, Japanese novelists to British Prime Ministers, History vs Women will re-frame the history that you thought you knew.

Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Harsh realities of war, Racism, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. This collective biography of women who have boldly made their marks on a world that often took great pains to deny them makes a concerted effort to shine a spotlight on those outside of the white, Western canon. Readers may have encountered a handful of these women before (Ida B. Wells, Margaret Thatcher), but, generally, this focuses on introducing colorful, daring figures that history has been less fond of (Sikh warrior Mai Bhago; Bessie Stringfield, the first black woman to travel solo across the U.S. by motorcycle; etc.). The women are profiled chronologically within five sections: rebels, scholars, villains, artists, and Amazons. Of particular interest is the villains section: from British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Spanish queen Isabel I, who inflicted damage on national and even global scales, to notorious lady pirate Ching Shih, these were women who, though strong and accomplished, were also ruthless and often criminal. But, as the text proclaims, “Putting women on a pedestal is really just another way to keep them in a box,” and this engaging, crisply designed book attempts to break barriers at every opportunity. Sketched portraits of the women accompany their detailed profiles, which are followed by a thorough afterword about the selection process and extensive source notes. A superbly well-rounded addition for collections looking to expand beyond recitations of the familiar.

School Library Journal (October 1, 2018)
Gr 7 Up-While many teens find inspiration for strength, courage, and guidance in feminist icons, such as Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, or Maya Angelou, untold numbers of brave women have been lost to history. Sarkeesian and Adams have put together the incredible achievements of 25 women throughout the centuries. Each section explores the lives of five women from around the world, from the third century to the 21st. Students will be introduced to the heroics of LGBTQ+ trailblazer Lucy Hicks Anderson, the wisdom of Fatima al-Fihri, the imagination of Murasaki Shikibu, and the strength of Bessie Stringfield. Readers of all ages, across the globe and socioeconomic spectrum, can find an icon to look up to within these pages. Filled with strength, this collection is incredibly inspiring and will instill in teens a take-charge attitude and powerful mind-set. VERDICT This is a must for public library YA nonfiction collections.-Kimberly Barbour, Manatee County Public Library System, FL

About the Authors

Anita Sarkeesian is an award-winning media critic and the creator and executive director of Feminist Frequency, an educational nonprofit that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives.Best known as the creator and host of Feminist Frequency’s highly influential series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, Anita lectures at universities, conferences and game development studios around the world. Anita dreams of owning a life-size replica of Buffy’s scythe.

Her website is www.feministfrequency.com

 

Ebony Adams, Ph.D. is an author, activist, and former college educator whose work foregrounds the lives and work of black women in the diaspora. She lives in Los Angeles with a steadily-increasing collection of Doctor Who memorabilia. She writes widely on film criticism, social justice, and pop culture.

 

Around the Web

History vs. Women on Amazon

History vs. Women on Barnes and Noble

History vs. Women on Goodreads

History vs. Women on LibraryThing

History vs. Women Publisher Page

Code Girls by Liza Mundy

Code Girls: The True Story of the American Women Who Secretly Broke Codes in World War II by Liza Mundy. October 2, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780316353731.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.6.

Code Girls is the true story of the young American women who cracked German and Japanese military codes during World War II.
More than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II, recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to the nation’s capital to learn the top secret art of code breaking.
Through their work, the “code girls” helped save countless lives and were vital in ending the war. But due to the top secret nature of their accomplishments, these women have never been able to talk about their story–until now.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Racism

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2018)
When the United States entered World War II, it quickly became clear that, in order to win the war, the military must break enemy code. With so many men serving as soldiers, smart women were called upon to join this secret effort. Initially, upper-level female college students were invited to apply. As the need for codebreakers grew, schoolteachers, especially those skilled in mathematics and sciences, were also called upon. The work was top secret. For many participants, these jobs offered opportunities that far surpassed their culturally circumscribed expectations, since young white women were, at the time, mostly viewed as destined for lifelong roles of wives and mothers. While the text acknowledges the existence of the Army’s segregated, black codebreaking unit, it focuses on the work of the white women. In this adaptation of Mundy’s book for adult readers, the text alternates between descriptions of the progress of the war and the lives of a few of the codebreakers. Sidebars offer additional information, but much of it is later repeated in the narrative. Well-integrated black-and-white period photographs (the adult version’s are presented in one sheaf of plates) and the additions of a timeline, glossary, and further reading in the backmatter round out this adaptation. It’s an entertaining presentation on a fascinating topic, but given its length, it doesn’t extend the audience too much beyond what its original could expect to reach. (timeline, glossary, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

About the Author

Liza Mundy is the New York Times bestselling author of The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family and Michelle: A Biography. She has worked as a reporter at the Washington Post and contributed to numerous publications including The Atlantic, TIME, The New Republic, Slate, Mother Jones, and The Guardian. She is a frequent commentator on countless prominent national television, radio, and online news outlets and has positioned herself at the prestigious New America Foundation as one of the nation’s foremost experts on women and work issues.

Her website is www.lizamundy.com

Teacher Resources

Code Girls Discussion Guide

Around the Web

Code Girls on Amazon

Code Girls on Barnes and Noble

Code Girls on Goodreads

Code Girls Publisher Page

Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu. March 6, 2018. First Second, 304 p. ISBN: 9781626728684.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Step aside Susan B. Anthony and Joan of Arc! French graphic novelist Bagieu’s (California Dreamin’, 2017) latest turns standard feminist anthology fare on its head, introducing 29 lesser-known ladies of various backgrounds, time periods, skin colors, and sexualities. Kicking off with Clémentine Delait, a beloved bearded lady in early twentieth-century France, and concluding with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, Bagieu’s vivacious collection spotlights rebels such as Las Mariposas (revolutionary sisters!), Sonita Alizadeh (Afghan rapper!), and Nobel Peace Prize–winning Leymah Gbowee (Liberian activist!) along the way. Bagieu’s writing is clever and concise, and panels brim with sly subtleties; Bagieu delivers laugh-out-loud one-liners in bitsy speech bubbles, and summons tragedy with no words at all, and her fine-lined figures are by turns playfully expressive, fierce, and reverent. Additionally, each profile employs its own distinct color palette; Bagieu’s segment on Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, for example, heavily features the bold blues, greens, yellows, and reds of Jansson’s signature Moomin comics. Bagieu’s dedication to Syrian activist Naziq al-Abid folds in the colors of the country’s flag. This dynamic paean to women’s flair for fearless resistance will have readers happily sifting through history—and tackling the future with renewed verve. Rock on, ladies.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
This French graphic novel offers a satisfying collection of minibiographies about bold women—some contemporary, others from centuries ago—who overcame fearsome odds to achieve a variety of goals, becoming the first black woman in space, a rapper in Afghanistan, a pioneering volcanologist, and more.The lives of 33 women of varying geographical, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds are highlighted in about 10 pages each of colorful, expressive, and often humorous cartoon panels—enough to serve as a catalyst for learning more. Some names are relatively recognizable, such as Temple Grandin and Nellie Bly, while others may be less so, such as Las Mariposas, Dominican sisters who became revolutionaries and human rights activists; Naziq al-Abid, a Syrian humanitarian and feminist; Agnodice, a fourth-century B.C.E. Athenian who disguised herself as a man in order to practice gynecology; and Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian social worker who escaped an abusive marriage and assisted other female survivors of violence. Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared—and overcome—by many others. (Graphic collective biography. 14-18)

About the Author

Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer.

Pénélope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and entertainment, where she graduated in December 2006.

Her website is www.penelope-jolicoeur.com.

Around the Web

Brazen on Amazon

Brazen on Goodreads

Brazen Publisher Page

Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling. February 13, 2018. Algonquin Young Readers, 312 p. ISBN: 9781616207342.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1100.

For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.

From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.

By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Domestic violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 7-10. Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in with the dramatic story of how the nineteenth amendment’s ratification came down to a Tennessee state congressman who voted yes—because his mother told him to! She then goes on to detail—in great detail—how women’s suffrage evolved; the way the movement fought side by side, and then sometimes against, abolitionists; the prejudice, often topped with scorn and incredulity, that the suffrage movement suffered; and the incredible inventiveness, tenacity, and bravery it took to finally get women the right to vote. This history is filled with women who stepped up, most notably movement architects Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Their enduring friendship (as well as their philosophical difference) is highlighted here. But other fascinating supporting characters, like flamboyant Victoria Woodhull and clear-headed Lucretia Mott, as well as many others, get their due. Illustrated with photographs and historical memorabilia, this is great for research as well as a good read.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement. Conkling takes readers back to a time when giving birth to a girl elicited sighs of pity. Women did not have the right to own property, could not enter into contracts or sign legal documents, could not keep their wages, had limited options for work, and had few legal rights overall. Over half of this thorough account focuses on the first wave of the suffragist movement, exploring the lives—personal and activist—of key players; coverage of the second wave moves faster, as women protest nonviolently, march, picket in silence, and endure unjust prison sentences. From hunger strikes to cruel and deplorable jail conditions, women endured much to get Congress to consider their vote. History buffs won’t be surprised when reading about the multiple occasions in which suffragists would put their needs before others’, getting tangled in racial and class tensions with abolitionists and African-Americans who were fighting for similar rights. With black-and-white portraits, newspaper clippings, historical renderings, and photographs interspersed, the well-documented narrative is propelled by diary and autobiography accounts, speeches, newspaper articles, and conventions and court records. Almost a century after women’s right to vote was secured, Conkling delivers a tour de force—fairly neutral, at times infuriating, occasionally graphic, and reminiscent of disturbing news today. (selected sources, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Winifred Conkling studied journalism at Northwestern University and spent the next 25 years writing non-fiction for adult readers, including for Consumer Reports magazine and more than 30 books. As part of her transition to writing for young people, she is working toward her Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Her website is www.winifredconkling.com.

Teacher Resources

Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans from the Library of Congress

Around the Web

Votes for Women! on Amazon

Votes for Women! on Goodreads

Votes for Women! Publisher Page

Notorious RGB Young Reader’s Edition by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Cameron & Shana Knizhnik. November 28, 2017. HarperCollins, 208 p. ISBN: 9780062748539.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4; Lexile: 1030.

The New York Times bestselling biography Notorious RBG—whose concept originated with a Tumblr page of the same name—is now available in a vibrant, full-color young readers’ edition.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.

This entertaining and insightful young readers’ edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
A tribute to the indefatigable Supreme Court justice—the only member of that esteemed bench ever to become a meme.Admiringly observing that “you don’t want to mess with her,” the authors open with Ginsburg’s devastating dissent following the court’s 2013 “gutting” of the Voting Rights Act, then look back over her childhood, education, and stellar legal career. This last is done with particular reference to the obstacles she had to overcome as a woman in the profession and to her work promoting women’s rights. The authors cast bright sidelights on her close relationships with her husband and with her great frenemy, Antonin Scalia, as well as on her legendary work habits and exercise routines. They also point to significant influences (notably African-American civil rights attorney Pauli Murray) as they describe how she became not just an inspirational figure, but a pop-culture icon. Collages of fans in RBG Halloween costume, of editorial cartoons, and even of needlepoint projects are interspersed with more-conventional photos of Ginsburg at various ages, images of documents and doodles, and inset featurettes with titles such as “The Jabot,” and “How to Be Like RBG.” This shaved-down version of the adult title shows signs of hasty preparation, from uncaptioned and misplaced photos to a partial list of “Things Women Couldn’t Do in the 1930s and 1940s” that includes “Become an astronaut.” It also ends abruptly with a generic 2017 quote (presumably) in response to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the court. Still, the prose is as trim and lively as its subject, and it makes a solid case for regarding the titular moniker, initially a joke, as truly just. A bit patchy productionwise, but vivacious and well-argued. (timeline, glossary, source list, index) (Biography. 10-14)

School Library Journal Xpress (February 1, 2018)
Gr 5-8-A tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that does more than catalog her achievements; it conveys her spirit, one that will leave readers in awe. Widely viewed as a champion for women’s rights, Ginsburg is quick to correct that she battles for “women’s and men’s liberation,” as best illustrated in the case of Stephen Wiesenfeld, who was prevented from collecting his dead wife’s social security due to his gender. Ginsburg accepted the case to argue that equality under the law benefits both sexes, and shrewdly, to set a precedent. Not only are her professional triumphs lauded, and our justice system explained, the authors do an excellent job of rounding out her rich life: wife in an egalitarian marriage, mother, and close friends with her polar opposite on the bench, Justice Scalia. The one misstep is the clumsy handling of the justice’s cancer, introduced as “her struggle.” Young readers may need more clarification. However, the book’s strengths far overshadow this stumble. This version shares the same knockout formatting as the adult edition: a plethora of photographs and images leaving nary a page unadorned, and slim informational inserts, such as “How to be like RBG” and “RBG’s workout,” that lend this serious subject a lighthearted tone. VERDICT Just as Ginsburg’s (sometimes) frilly jabot belies the quiet revolutionary, this lively biography of this esteemed justice whose influence straddles two centuries is to be taken seriously. Highly recommended.-Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX

About the Authors

Irin Carmon is an Israeli-American journalist and commentator. She is a national reporter at MSNBC, covering women, politics, and culture for the website and on air. She is a Visiting Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.

In 2011, she was named one of Forbes‘ “30 under 30” in media and featured in New York Magazine as a face of young feminism. She received the November 2011 Sidney award from The Sidney Hillman Foundation recognizing her reporting on the Mississippi Personhood Initiative for Salon. Mediaite named her among four in its award for Best TV pundit of 2014.

Her website is irincarmon.com

Shana Knizhnik is a civil rights attorney. While a student at NYU law school, she created the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr, a feminist website dedicated to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her lifelong fight for equality and social justice.

 

Around the Web

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Amazon

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Goodreads

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition Publisher Page

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz. October 3, 2017. HarperTeen, 376 p. ISBN: 9780062642745.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, War, Violence, Smoking, Harsh realities of war

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. Based on true events and figures from WWII, Katz’s novel offers a fictional tale of a Russian airwoman called Valka and her childhood friend Pasha and how their lives are disrupted by the war. Kind, peace-loving Pasha is sent to a war-hungry veteran commander as a radio operator, while Valka eventually becomes one of the famous Night Witches, supremely successful regiments of all-women pilots, stealthily flying over enemy lines each night to drop bombs in strategic places. Pasha and Valka’s steady stream of letters—which become increasingly desperate as they’re both moved closer and closer to the front lines and, miraculously, each other—is what ultimately gets them through the war. Katz’s debut doesn’t skimp on the terrible realities of war, as described in Valka’s first-person narrative and the intermittent letters between the two characters, and she nicely weaves historical events through the fictional narrative. This beautiful, emotional entry into a key moment in Russian history will appeal to lovers of adventure novels, as well as historical fiction fans.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
Katz’s highly readable novel offers an entry into the story of the Soviet Union’s famed WWII squadrons of airwomen, the “Night Witches.” An accomplished pilot of a quirky, unreliable small plane, Valka leaps at the chance to sign up for the Motherland’s first all-women fighter and bomber regiments. Soon she’s operating as a bomber pilot, assigned to one of the slow, low-flying planes used for night attacks, with her beloved cousin Iskra as her navigator. Nazi fire, terrible weather, darkness, the loss of comrades, even commands to bomb their own countrymen all come into play, exercising Valka’s aeronautical and emotional resources with dramatic effect. Most notably, though, Valka worries about her sweetheart Pasha in the infantry; when the chance comes to save him, she commits treason to do so. Katz is skillfully informative, interweaving historical figures and facts without losing emotional propulsion and suspense; at the same time, she opts to stretch credulity with an expansive correspondence between Valka and Pasha, the chattiness of which would have seriously endangered their comrades, and whose liberality with locations shows a naive–or incredible–disregard of the censors. But that very correspondence is part of what makes this story accessible to American YA readers–as does, no doubt, its suspenseful, Hollywood ending. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals.

Her website is www.gwenckatz.com

Around the Web

Among the Red Stars on Amazon

Among the Red Stars on Goodreads

Among the Red Stars on JLG

Among the Red Stars Publisher Page

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. May 2, 2017. Sourcebooks, 480 p. ISBN: 9781492649359.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 980.

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger.

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive – until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Clinical description of the results of radium poisoning

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 14))
In 1917, the Radium Luminous Materials Corporation willingly employed young women, paid far better than most businesses, and had many enticing perks—including the glow. Radium girls, most in their teens and early twenties, painted watch dials with a luminescent paint mixed with radium dust, which clung to their hair and clothes and produced a telltale glow about them as they walked home each evening. At the time, radium was used in cancer treatments and touted in expensive tonics, so the girls didn’t question smoothing the radium-laden paintbrushes in their mouths, as instructed, or even painting their nails with them. But the women would soon suffer horrific pain and grotesquely shattered bones and teeth, and the company, it would be discovered, had known better. In 1928, just eight years after women had earned the right to vote, a group of former radium girls brought suit against the companies whose knowledge of radium’s hazards, and careless disregard for them, had endangered and harmed them. This timely book celebrates the strength of a group of women whose determination to fight improved both labor laws and scientific knowledge of radium poisoning. English author Moore, who directed a play about the girls, writes in a highly readable, narrative style, and her chronicle of these inspirational women’s lives is sure to provoke discussion—and outrage—in book groups.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
British author Moore (Felix the Railway Cat, 2017) takes a slice of ugly American history from nearly a century ago, telling a compelling narrative that could be ripped from recent headlines.A few years ago, while living in London, the author went online to search for “great plays for women,” and she found These Shining Lives, a play by Melanie Marnich about the radium poisonings and subsequent workplace-related deaths of factory employees, primarily in Ottawa, Illinois, and Newark, New Jersey, in the 1920s and 1930s. Eager to learn more, Moore traveled to the United States to research the deaths. She found two narrowly focused, quasi-academic books about the saga but nothing for general audiences. Deciding to focus on the employers, the United States Radium Corporation in New Jersey and the Radium Dial Company in Illinois, Moore alternates chapters focusing on more than 15 women employed in Newark and a dozen women in Ottawa. Each one of them became sick from their piecework painting numerals on clock faces using a radium-infused radioactive substance that allowed the products to glow in the dark. Many of the employees died while in their 20s and 30s after years of agonizing illnesses. The employers, as well as the scientists and physicians attending to the women, denied liability for the suffering and deaths. At first, the employers claimed that the radium was benign. Later, when the toxicity had been documented, the employers blamed the women workers for careless use even though the women were observing workplace protocols. Moore clearly separates the heroines from the villains throughout this deeply researched book, and she never masks her outrage. A handful of physicians, public health investigators, and lawyers obtained some monetary awards for the victims, but the money was far from sufficient for adequate justice.Moore offers such vivid portraits of suffering that certain passages can be difficult to read, but this is an important story well told.

About the Author

Kate Moore is a New York Times best selling writer with more than a decade’s experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2015 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called ‘These Shining Lives.’ She lives in the UK.

Her website is www.kate-moore.com

Teacher Resources

The Radium Girls Reading Guide

The Radium Girls Discussion Questions

Around the Web

The Radium Girls on Amazon

The Radium Girls on Goodreads

The Radium Girls on JLG

The Radium Girls Publisher Page

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights by Deborah Kops

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights by Deborah Kops. February  28, 2017. Calkins Creek, 216 p. ISBN: 9781629793238.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1050.

Here is the story of leader Alice Paul, from the women’s suffrage movement—the long struggle for votes for women—to the “second wave,” when women demanded full equality with men. Paul made a significant impact on both. She reignited the sleepy suffrage moment with dramatic demonstrations and provocative banners. After women won the right to vote in 1920, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would make all the laws that discriminated against women unconstitutional. Passage of the ERA became the rallying cry of a new movement of young women in the 1960s and ’70s. Paul saw another chance to advance women’s rights when the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 began moving through Congress. She set in motion the “sex amendment,” which remains a crucial legal tool for helping women fight discrimination in the workplace. Includes archival images, author’s note, bibliography, and source notes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Racism, Antisemitism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. You might say that American Alice Paul (1885–1977) was born a feminist. Raised in the Quaker tradition, which from its outset embraced gender equality, she was further radicalized as a sociology doctoral candidate in England when she first heard suffragist Christabel Pankhurst address a hostile crowd. “I want to throw in all the strength I can give to help,” Paul determined. That she did in a pitched battle spanning six decades, from the struggle to pass the Nineteenth Amendment through the Second Wave attempt to append the still unrealized Equal Rights Amendment. Paul and her cohorts came up with ingenious means of infiltrating the bastions of power: in London, she and an ally disguised themselves as cleaning women in order to disrupt a guildhall banquet with shouts of “Votes for women!” The gambit occasioned her first imprisonment, leading to a hunger strike and forced feeding—a horrendous procedure rendered here factually and without sensationalism. Her health compromised by three such ordeals, Paul soldiered on, creatively. Young activists could learn a lot from this clear, engaging biography, which makes excellent use of primary sources and contains a number of black-and-white photographs. An extensive bibliography provides further resources for students interested in digging up more on the secret of Paul’s success: keep changing the delivery method while holding fast to the message.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
Alice Paul lacks the name recognition of fellow suffragists Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but this lucid, inspiring portrait reveals her noteworthy contributions to women’s rights. Paul absorbed the principle of gender equality during her Quaker childhood. While pursuing graduate studies in England, Paul joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, a militant suffrage group. Arrested repeatedly during demonstrations, Paul was treated brutally while serving three jail terms. After returning to the United States, Paul participated in National American Woman Suffrage Association rallies. She reignited the somnolent suffrage movement, creating provocative banners and organizing dramatic events, such as a 1913 protest march in Washington, which drew thousands of marchers from around the country. Disagreement over strategies and methods led Paul to break with NAWSA and formethe National Woman’s Party in 1916, which she led for 50 years. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make unconstitutional all laws discriminating against women. Kops’ engaging narrative is as insightful about the history of the fight for women’s rights as it is about Paul’s many remarkable achievements. She makes liberal use of primary-source material, giving Paul and her contemporaries voice and including plentiful photographs to accompany her account. A rich, fascinating, and inspiring account of a tireless champion for women’s rights. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Biography. 11-18)

 

About the Author

Deborah Kops has written more than twenty nonfiction books for children and young adults. Her most recent work, The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919(Charlesbridge), was a finalist for the 2013 Boston Authors Club’s Young Reader’s Prize, was on the National Council for the Social Studies’ list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People for 2013, and was also named to the New York Public Library’s 2012 list, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Her website is deborahkops.com

Teacher Resources

Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on Amazon

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on Goodreads

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights on JLG

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights  Publisher Page

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures: Young Reader’s Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly. November 29, 2016. HarperCollins, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062662385.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1120.

New York Times bestselling author Margot Lee Shetterly’s book is now available in a new edition perfect for young readers. This is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Now a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who lived through the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Christine Darden are names that have been largely forgotten. The four women worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in the mid-twentieth century. Each displayed early aptitude for math, sharp curiosity about the world around them, and marked confidence in the face of discrimination. They contributed to discoveries about space and to sending manned missions into orbit. Their life stories are the perfect impetus for discussion on a host of important historical themes germane to the 1950s, such as gender roles, racial prejudice and segregation, and scientific exploration. In any context, these women’s contributions to science and aerospace technology would be impressive, but the obstacles imposed by the norms of their society make their achievements all the more impressive. Middle-schoolers will find their story, here in a young readers’ edition of Shetterly’s 2016 adult book (the basis of a current movie), engaging and inspirational.

About the Author

I’m the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (William Morrow/HarperCollins). I’m also the founder of The Human Computer Project, an endeavor that is recovering the names and accomplishments of all of the women who worked as computers, mathematicians, scientists and engineers at the NACA and NASA from the 1930s through the 1980s.

I’m a Hampton, Virginia native, University of Virginia graduate, an entrepreneur, and an intrepid traveler who spent 11 years living in Mexico. I currently live in Charlottesville, VA.

Her website is www.margotleeshetterly.com.

Teacher Resources

Hidden Figures Teacher Resources

Hidden Figures Teaching Guide

“When Computers Wore Skirts” Lesson Plan

Around the Web

Hidden Figures on Amazon

Hidden Figures on Goodreads

Hidden Figures on JLG

Hidden Figures Publisher Page