Mathews writes conversationally, favoring informal language and even touching on her personal experiences to entice readers and keep them engaged. This style lends an air of familiarity to a weighty subject and invites readers to imagine the day-to-day lives of these women, but at the cost of a more authoritative tone. Uncited quotes, like Sally Ride’s husband saying “Have a ball up there!” before she went into space, are indistinguishable from the chatty conversations that Mathews invents between the historical figures and other people in their lives, a likely source of confusion for younger readers and parents navigating the distinctions between fact and fiction.
Though the addition of historical images, including photographs, creates a welcome opportunity for kids to see the women and some of what they’re famous for, like a hair product of Madame CJ Walker’s, the hand-drawn illustrations from the author do little to enhance the reading experience. This is ultimately a celebration of women’s accomplishments in science and the environment—areas that are historically lacking in female leadership—and an encouragement for kids of all genders to make a difference through their inquisitiveness and perseverance.
Takeaway: Young readers who enjoy a more casual approach to history will appreciate this tribute to women trailblazers.
Great for fans of: Marlene Wagman-Geller’s Behind Every Great Man, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A