A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Bios of 52 brave and daring women who's stories might otherwise go unnoticed by young readers. Many are women of color, including African-Americans, Native Americans of various tribes, Latinas, Asians, and an Iraqi woman. Relevant history is woven into the women's bios, for instance WWII and the Holocaust, the Iraq War, etc.
Females can be anything they want to be. They can make daring choices that subvert expectation, and ones that require physical skill. Women can follow their interests and push themselves.
Positive Role Models
Fifty-two female role models of women who were "fearless daredevils, adventurers, and rebels." Many were especially physically active, many chose daring, unusual career paths.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Women Who Dared: 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers is a compilation of short, page-long bios that are off the beaten track of the usual feminist history fare. Here, there's no Rosa Parks, Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and very few of the women profiled may be familiar to readers. Instead, we're introduced to "Stagecoach Mary," who brandished a bullwhip as she drove a stagecoach for the U.S. Postal Service, and Bessie Stringfield, Motorcycle Queen of Miami. The bios are divided into three sections: Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels, and the prose is lively, with just the right detail to draw in and engage readers. The opening bio is of biracial 19th century acrobat Anna Olga Albertina Brown, immortalized in a painting by Edgar Degas, and the book includes lots of profiles of women of color. This can be a fun bedside book to both savor and inspire.
Is It Any Good?
There's something very fresh and refreshing about this compilation of bios of daring women, most of whom aren't famous, but are "ordinary" women who did extraordinary things. The profiles in Women Who Dared: 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels span time, place, and race, though a lot are from the United States. Author Linda Skeers includes African-Americans, Native Americans of different Nations (Wyandot, Blackfeet, Omaha, Black Seminole), Latinas, an Iraqi librarian, and a Japanese martial artist. Skeers' prose is crisp, clean, easy to follow, and lively, always offering up the engaging detail. When lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis had to take over the lighthouse duties when her father died, she had to quit school but still "rowed her young siblings to school, and picked them up and rowed them home every day." Bessie Stringfield, "Motorcycle Queen of Miami," took "penny tours," in which she’d "flip a penny onto a map, and that’s where she’d go!"
Each profile has a full-page facing illustration, which helps readers identify at a glance each woman's race, time period, and the gist of her accomplishments. The message is clear: Don’t hold back! Do what you love and have fun doing it! Because the book's jam-packed with bite-size bios, it's probably best consumed in small sittings, a few at a time. Girls might keep it on their night tables or in their backpacks to pull out and enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Books with Strong Female Characters
Movies with Strong Female Characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate