New Picture Books about Amazing Women


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I love Women's History Month because it gives me time to focus on some amazing women and learn more about them. However, I also know there people out there that do not have the time to research these women, and sometimes you just want a book to read that will help celebrate the month. Today I get to share three picture books about three amazing women that will be instant role models for children. The women are Kip Tiernan, Betrice Shilling and Daphne Caruana Galizia. Come learn about these books and a bit about the women. I will share some ideas of ways to expand these on these books as well. We will start with Kip Tiernan. The book is called Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie's Place, the Nation's First Shelter for Women by Christine McDonnell and illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov. It is recommended for ages 7 to 10. 

From the Publisher:

“Justice is not three hots and a cot. Justice is having your own key.” —Kip Tiernan

When Kip Tiernan was growing up during the Great Depression, she’d help her granny feed the men who came to their door asking for help. As Kip grew older, and as she continued to serve food to hungry people, she noticed something peculiar: huddled at the back of serving lines were women dressed as men. At the time, it was believed that there were no women experiencing homelessness. And yet Kip would see women sleeping on park benches and searching for food in trash cans. Kip decided to open the first shelter for women—a shelter with no questions asked, no required chores, just good meals and warm beds. With persistence, Kip took on the city of Boston in her quest to open Rosie's Place, our nation's first shelter for women.

Christine McDonnell, a former educator at Rosie’s Place, and illustrator Victoria Tentler-Krylov bring warmth to Kip Tiernan's story of humanity and tenacity, showing readers how one person's dream can make a huge difference, and small acts of kindness can lead to great things.

Before Kip Tiernan came along, the US had no shelters for women. Here is the inspirational story of a singular woman and what her vision and compassion have brought to life.

From Me:

Ok, let me start with this one is personal. Since moving to the Boston area I have heard about Rosie's Place. I didn't know much about it, but I heard about it everywhere. This is the place to support for women's shelters. However, the story of Rosie's Place and its founder is amazing. Kip, or Mary Jane Tiernan, grew up in her grandmother's house during the Great Depression. Her grandmother taught her to be generous by always giving food and more to the people who knocked on her door during this time. Then she heard speakers talking about stepping up and ending poverty and hunger and she sold her advertising business and went to work for Warwick House. While serving on the dinner line at Warwick House she began to notice the women dressed in men's clothing at the end of the line. They had to disguise themselves to get food and a bed since there were no shelters for women. 

Kip questioned why there weren't shelters for women. She was told that homelessness was not a woman's problem. She however realized it was since the women were disguising themselves to get a meal and a bed. She pushed and pushed until the city of Boston agreed to rent her an empty supermarket. The supermarket had been called Rosen's Market. Kip changed the name to Rosie's Place to make it a welcoming place for women. She opened it on Easter Sunday in 1974. Rosie's Place was the first shelter just for women in the United States. 

This book shares Kip's story beautifully. The words and pictures share her desire to help and make people feel welcome and to not be ashamed of their situation. The story is perfect for sharing the need for helping others. At the end of the book there is more information about Kip as well as the Great Depression, hobo symbols, causes of homelessness, and the Kip Tiernan Memorial and some of her quotes that are on it. To go with this book, I would suggest activity to give to shelters or food banks. Kip also began the Greater Boston Food Bank. As a family children can help select products to give to a shelter and/or local food bank. As a class the students can host a food drive for the local shelter. You can always make a donation to Rosie's Place as well!

Our next book takes us back to World War II. This book would have been perfect for my Women's History Month posts last year where I focused on women in wars. Although I did focus on Americans for the most part. The book is called The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Daniel Duncan. It is recommended for ages 5 to 9.

From the Publisher:

Beatrice Shilling wasn’t quite like other children. She could make anything. She could fix anything. And when she took a thing apart, she put it back together better than before.

When Beatrice left home to study engineering, she knew that as a girl she wouldn’t be quite like the other engineers—and she wasn’t. She was better. Still, it took hard work and perseverance to persuade the Royal Aircraft Establishment to give her a chance. But when World War II broke out and British fighter pilots took to the skies in a desperate struggle for survival against Hitler’s bombers, it was clearly time for new ideas. Could Beatrice solve an engine puzzle and help Britain win the war? American author Mara Rockliff and British illustrator Daniel Duncan team up for a fresh look at a turning point in modern history—and the role of a remarkable woman whose ingenuity, persistence, and way with a wrench (or spanner) made her quite unlike anyone else. An author’s note and a list of selective sources provide additional information for curious readers.

This true story of a woman whose brilliance and mechanical expertise helped Britain win World War II is sure to inspire STEM readers and fans of amazing women in history.

From Me:

I love that this book shares that Beatrice was not like the other students, motorcyclists, graduates, etc. The difference being that she was a woman. I also love that the book shares that Beatrice made mistakes at every stage of her life. Such an important concept to know and accept--we will make mistakes always. Beatrice loved working with tools and fixing things as well as building things. She tinkered with motorcycles and then began racing them. She wasn't like the other racers because she won! Throughout her life people learned she could fix anything and brought problems to her that the men could not fix. She always found a way. 

Beatrice apprenticed with a female engineer. This was pre-World War II so there were not many female engineers around. It was the engineer who encouraged Beatrice to attend college. I love that Beatrice went to college to become an electrical engineer. This is a field that still does not have many women in it. My husband is an electrical engineer, and we discuss the lack of women in the field often. As a woman she was underestimated often. She was continuously showing people what she could do and that she did it well. She became somewhat of a legend to people who didn't know her and she did so much during World War II to help save lives of the soldiers. 

At the end of the book is more information about Beatrice with much more detail. The story itself is wonderful and gives the feeling of the sexism that Beatrice endured throughout her life. It does mention her marriage but does not focus too much on her personal life. To go with this story, I would pick a STEM project or two. You can find some here. I'm thinking a balloon car race would be great for a class or siblings.

Our final book takes us to Malta and shares the story of a young woman who fought for free speech. The book is Fearless: The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Defender of Free Speech by Gattaldo. It is recommended for ages 7 to 9.

From the Publisher:

As a little girl, Daphne wanted to be a writer, to be brave and use words and pictures to share important stories about her country, Malta. Growing up, she always had her nose in books, which she said taught her never to let other people think for her. As she got older, when she saw bad things happening in her country, she believed she could change people’s lives through peaceful protest. She would ultimately follow her dream by working for a national newspaper, becoming an influential and courageous political journalist who took on criminals the only way she knew how—through her writing. In the end, despite increasingly dangerous—and ultimately fatal—efforts by her adversaries to silence her, Daphne made a difference and was an inspiration to all who believe in freedom of speech and the power of the press. In this compelling picture book, followed by a biographical note, debut author-illustrator Gattaldo explores the life and legacy of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a fearless advocate for truth and justice.

For budding young activists, the true story of an intrepid Maltese woman who followed her calling to be an investigative journalist—and refused to back down.

From Me:

This book shares the story of Daphne who falls in love with writing but also with speaking out for justice. It is done in a way that is age appropriate for the recommended ages. At the end of the book is a bit more about Daphne including her murder. Daphne was an investigative journalist who was not afraid to share the truth. She shared about corruption and misdeeds by people in power. Her family pets were killed, homes burned and more. Some of this in the story but not a lot. The book itself is more about how she wanted to make her country a better place and wanted justice and honesty.

Daphne was brave and courageous. She did not back down when threatened. Sadly, her life ended by one of the threats happening. In the author's note Gattaldo shares that he and Daphne were friends and he wanted to share her story with the world. To go with this story, I think it would be a fun project to have the kids share the story of someone they are close to--a friend or family member. What would they want to share about the person? Why? 

So, these are three more women to learn about and honor. I love that these books are available so kids can have more strong female role models. I hope you will check them out!