Heroines: Great Women Through the Ages

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
Heroines: Great Women Through the Ages Book Poster Image
Twelve women battle prejudice in anthology.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some women are treated abusively for their beliefs and actions.

Violence

Death and torture are mentioned.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 12 heroines profiled here lived from ancient times to modern history and represent a variety of cultures and talents. They include Harriet Tubman and Sacagawea, as well as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, Madame Sun Yat-Sen, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, and Frida Kahlo.

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What's the story?

Twelve female crusaders battle prejudice and persecution in this inspiring anthology. Joan of Arc, Sacagewea, Frida Kahlo, and others fight such obstacles as small-minded opponents, racism, and physical disabilities as they forge bold legacies. The writing is effective, but soft watercolor illustrations undercut the vivid text.

 

Is it any good?

Some of the women throughout history who have challenged the status quo get their due in this uneven large-format book. Rebecca Hazell brings these women to life by sprinkling human-interest details throughout. The author is frank about the consequences of some of the heroines' actions and the outcomes, including physical abuse, imprisonment, and being burned alive, as well as the practice of buying, selling, and trading humans.

Hazell speculates about those whose deaths went unrecorded: "With so many skills," she writes, "perhaps Sacagawea could have escaped her husband, made her way back to her tribe, and lived to be a wise old woman. We will never know, any more than Sacagawea knew that she was making history." Fact boxes have inconsistently organized information linked to hard-to-locate numbers on an indistinct map. The watercolor drawings are suggestive but lack detail, and thus merely hint at the vigor of these women's lives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the horrific outcomes for the heroines, including physical abuse, imprisonment, and being burned alive. Are you surprised at how much these heroines suffered?

  • Which of these women had the right to act on her own beliefs? To what extent where they limited by other people or cultural norms?

  • Who were you most impressed by?

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