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Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World Book Poster Image
Lively, inspiring mini-bios of women who made a difference.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Brazen offers illustrated mini-biographies of 29 notable women from throughout history. The book offers plenty of inspiration for further reading.

Positive Messages

By raising their voices in the face of adversity, women have been able to make better lives for themselves and others. You can use passion, resourcefulness, and bravery to change society for the better.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The women profiled in Brazen are remarkable not only for their accomplishments but for the fortitude with which they faced adversity. Whether the subject is actress Margaret Hamilton or astronaut Mae Jemison, the mini-bios clearly show why they're role models.


War and domestic violence are sometimes part of these women's histories. Violence is more often hinted at than depicted directly. Sexual assault and teen marriage are mentioned.


Sex is presented as a normal part of life, and some people have more of it than others. LGBTQ relationships are depicted in a positive light.


A few mild vulgarisms -- "balls," "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A handful of panels depict men and women smoking cigarettes, mostly in historical settings.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World presents 29 illustrated mini-biographies of notable women from throughout history. Subjects range from Empress Wu Zetian to explorer Delia Akeley  to astronaut Mae Jemison. From a highly diverse set of backgrounds, each woman displays bravery, resourcefulness, and strength in the face of adversity. Strong language is infrequent and mild ("ass," "balls"). Sex is shown as a normal part of life, but it is only mentioned, not depicted, and then only rarely. 

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What's the story?

In 29 chapters, BRAZEN: REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD offers brief stories of women who defied the odds and achieved excellence in their professional lives. Subjects include actor/inventor Hedy Lamarr, art collector Peggy Guggenheim, entertainer Josephine Baker, athlete Cheryl Bridges, and lighthouse keeper Giorgina Reid. Often dismissed by their male colleagues and family members, these women raised their voices to make a better world for themselves and others. Often funny, frequently heartbreaking, these tales of female achievement will surprise and inspire teen readers of any gender.

Is it any good?

Capturing the essence of any person's life in a half-dozen pages is a formidable task, but this collection of mini-bios of rebellious and influential women hits the mark almost every time. In Brazen, author/illustrator Penelope Bagieu mostly follows a nine-panel-per-page format, which occasionally becomes crowded but more often anchors the reader's attention in telling details. Some world-famous and some obscure, the women spotlighted come from a wide array of times, places, and cultures. What they share is a conviction that they can excel in their spheres of endeavor. With an open and inviting illustrative style and a gift for caricature, Bagieu celebrates sisterhood and the great things that can be accomplished through it. Female and male readers alike will respond to the book's humor, scholarship, and cheeky, positive attitude.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Brazen uses the graphic medium to tell the life histories of 29 accomplished women. How are comics suited to nonfiction? Do comics allow effects not available to text alone?

  • How have women's rights been suppressed throughout history? How have individuals struggled against that oppression? What successful strategies did they employ?

  • How does Brazen depict women in leadership roles? Why do men often dismiss women's observations and opinions, in politics, science, and other fields?

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