Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Women's History Month

Welcome to March, Women's History Month!

There has been a trend in children's books to write short, illustrated biographies for younger readers.  In the past year there have been several books written about women in vehicular sports, race car drivers, pilots and even cyclists. 

Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lee Brown is the surprising story of young Elinor Smith who got her pilot's license in 1928 at the age of sixteen.  She was a daredevil pilot and is famous for being the first pilot - ever - to fly under all four bridges on New York City's East River and she did it in a single flight.  The illustrations show just how daring this stunt was.

Fearless : the story of racing legend Louise Smith by Barbara Rosenstock is full of beautiful paintings of the bulbous nosed cars of the 1930s and 1940s.  Louise Smith got her first race car driving job as a "stunt" to drum up business for her sponsor.  Once she got a taste of the excitement of racing, there was no turning back for Louise.  The stories of her racing successes and escapades are fun and fast-paced.

Tillie the terrible Swede : how one woman, a sewing needle, and a bicycle changed history by Sue Stauffacher tells the story of Tillie Anderson, who first revolutionized cycling outfits for women in the 1890s and then proceeded to win bicycle race after bicycle race.   Readers will enjoy the clever drawings and reading about the bicycle craze of the end of the 19th century.

Stretching back even further, Charley Parkhurst drove stagecoach her entire life and no one knew she was a woman until she died.  In Rough, Tough Charley, Verla Kay writes about Charley's rivoting life in rhymed couplets describing how Charley masqueraded as a stable boy and became a very able stagecoach driver.  In simple verse, Kay also explains why Charley's disguise was necessary for a woman who wanted to follow that career.  The realistic oil paintings are accurate to the time period of the mid-19th century.

Women, wheels and wings combine to make great reading for Women's History Month.

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