Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World Book Poster Image
Inspiring tales of women pursuing dreams in a new land.

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Educational Value

Mini-biographies of 100 immigrant women are packed with information about breakthroughs in a wide variety of fields (sports, science, medicine, fashion, politics, etc.), situations in differnt countries (war, oppression), and challenges in various industries (prejudice, sexism). 

Positive Messages

In addition to positive messages in each mini-biography, there's an inspiring quote from each woman displayed on her portrait. For example: 'Dont forget to have fun with what you do! That's where true creativity comes from" (Niki Yang, animator and voice who created Adventure Time); "I did my best. But I can always do better" (figure skater Surya Bonaly); "No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid," (actor Lupita Amondi Nyong'o); "To be perfect is impossible, but to be better is possible. When I look back and see that I'm better than yesterday, then it's good enough" (ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each of the 100 women profiled is a positive role model for deterimination, resilience, hard work, never giving up, following your dream, fighting for what you believe in, striving to create and innovate, never taking no for an answer, and beleiveing that girls can do anything. There are also many loving, supportive parents in the women's biographies. 

Violence & Scariness

References to leaving a birth country to escape war or persecution. mention of a girl losing a leg in a car crash. Mention in writer Malika Oufkir's biography that her father, an adviser to King Hassa II of Morocco, was killed by the king (after her father tried to overthrow him) and 19-year-old Malika, her five brothers and sisters and mother, were thrown into prision. They eventually made a daring escape through a secret tunnel they dug with the lid of a sardine can, and she later immigrated to France and wrote about what happend to her family.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Elena Favilli's Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is the third book in the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls series. This one, illustrated by 60 artists from around the world who identify as women, focuses on women who immigrated to a new country and made their mark there. Some are household names (depending on how old you are), like recording artists Gloria Estefan (from Cuba) and Rihanna (Barbados), fashion designer Liz Claiborne (Belgium), actor Lupita Nyong'o (Mexico and Kenya), and first female U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Czech Republic). But most will probably be new to many readers. And it's not all about women who immigrated to the United States. For example, Sumo wretsling commentator Doreen Simmons immigrated from England to Japan, and entertainer and activist Josephine Baker moved from the United States to France. As for violence, there are references to war and persecution, as refugees flee to find safety and opportunity in a new land, and mentions of injuries, such as someone who lost her leg in a car crash. 

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What's the story?

GOOD NIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS: 100 IMMIGRANT WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD offers concise profiles of women in all sorts of fields -- science, medicine, sports, fashion, the arts, politics, media, activism, and more. The majority of them will be unknown to most young readers. But even if a reader knows a celebrity's name, they may not know the backstory of how and why they came to the country where they became famous, and what drove them to accomolish great things. Each two-page profile features biographical text on the left-hand page and a full-page, full-color artistic portrait on the right, along with an inspiring quote from that woman. Back pages include space for readers to write their own story and draw their own portrait. And there's also a glossary. 

Is it any good?

This inspiring, compelling collection of mini-bios highlights the amazing contriubutions of immigrants who made their mark in a country other than the one where they were born. Some left as small children when their parents left their homeland to escape war or persecution, others left as teens or adults seeking opportunity or following their dream. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World drives home the point that where someone was born doesn't determine what they can accomplish, and that many successful people who've changed the world for the better have come from places other than where they built their careers. The bios are origanized in alphabetical order by first name, so they jump around in time period, which may or may not be confusing to young readers.

The four- or five-paragraph profiles highlight colorful, often relatable details and turning points in each woman's story, and are easy for young readers to grasp. And the dynamic portraits really draw readers in. Together they make for a lively, enaging read -- or read-aloud -- that underllines the value of hard work, determination, and following your dream, and offers an entertaining counter to the anti-immigrant narrative prevalent in politics. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the accomplishments of the women in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World. How much harder would it be to become successful in a place where you had to learn a new language? 

  • Did your family come from another country to make a home where you are now? Did your ancestors? How do you think it shaped them? What does it mean to follow your dream?

  • Which stories in this book stand out to you as the most amazing or the biggest achievement? How much strength would it take to get a fresh start in a new country?

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