Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History (Vashti Harrison)

Hello, friends! We’re wrapping up Women’s History Month with today’s review, Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History by Vashti Harrison, a fantastic encyclopedia of inspirational black women for young bookworms.

They were pilots, writers, scientists, dancers. They were astronauts, actresses, abolitionists, and spies. And each of the forty remarkable women featured in this tome of black girl magic was a revolutionary in her time, paving the way for those who would follow. With each spread – featuring a three- to four-paragraph biography of the woman’s achievements coupled with an illustration of the pioneer herself – readers will learn about icons like Mae Jemison, Wilma Rudolph, Ruby Bridges, Nina Simone and many, many more.

Absolutely phenomenal. Everything about this book makes it an instant must-have for little readers’ shelves, especially for young girls of color. The storybook-style layout of each woman is perfect for either sharing with an adult or exploring on one’s own, and makes for a reading experience as long or short as the reader wishes; while JJ and I would never be able to read this together in one sitting, we made it through five biographies comfortably. The illustrations are lovely, featuring each subject against a background representative of their time and accomplishments (often including a quote by the woman), but sharing the same round face and proud smile that allows young readers to project themselves into the subject’s shoes. It’s an inspired choice, and we loved it. This is a gorgeous nonfiction storybook that entertains and informs as it inspires, and we recommend it for any little trailblazer-in-the-making. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Golden Girls Of Rio (Nikkolas Smith)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Golden Girls Of Rio by Nikkolas Smith, a celebration of the gold-winning female athletes of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In the summer of 2016, on the world’s stage, a handful of young female athletes captivated, awed, and inspired. But before these young women were champions, they were little girls from all across America, who worked hard and practiced tirelessly to become the best in their sports. They made friends and formed teams along the way, and were invited to represent their country in the largest athletic competition in the world – and all of them triumphed. Michelle Carter became the first US gold medalist in shotput, while Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel broke multiple swimming records between them. And of course, The Final Five, the multiple gold medal-winning gymnastics team, including Simone Biles, the most decorated US gymnast of all time.

A cute book that celebrates some seriously awesome women. If you weren’t enraptured by the female US athletes during the Rio Olympics, you weren’t watching, and it’s great that there is a book that celebrates not only their achievements, but the immense amounts of determination and hard work that went into reaching gold. The digital art is a little uneven, lacking depth at times but creating great abstract visuals at others, and is the one place where the book struggles. Otherwise, the length is fine, and JJ definitely enjoyed it. One personal note: since the book was published, members of the Final Five have gone on to be prominent figures in the #MeToo movement, and instrumental in prosecuting one of the worst monsters and most corrupt institutions brought to light in this reckoning. So in my very biased opinion, any book that celebrates them as athletes and women deserves to be shared with every little reader. Baby Bookworm approved.

Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel (Lisa Pliscou)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel, written by Lisa Pliscou and illustrated by Jen Corace, a picture book biography of the world-famous author.

Little Jane was born to a humble household in England, loving parents, a sister and six brothers, and a household full of the boys her father tutored. Raised in a time when girls were expected to be wives and mothers (and little else), Jane found a passion for stories: the ones her father told by the fire, the ones she read in the family’s extensive library and the ones she soon began to write for herself. The family loved Jane’s stories, especially the one she had written to help heal after a broken heart, and her father submitted it to be published – but no one was interested in publishing work written by a woman. Jane continued to help her family as best she could, but always writing. At last, after years of trying, two of Jane’s books were published and proved to be smashing successes. She went on to write and publish four more, though she sadly passed away at a young age. Still, Jane had the courage to go against the norm and follow her dreams, and is still a much-beloved author 200 years later.

A fantastic introduction to Austen and her works. The story touches on all the major plot points of Jane’s life: her childhood illness, her brief and tragic romance, the sources for her inspiration and creative style and so on, giving a richly detailed look at what made Jane so unique, especially for her time. The soft yet colorful art captures the feel of the Regency era, and gives Jane’s expressions a spark that little dreamers can connect with. The length is definitely for older bookworms, though JJ was engaged nearly all the way through. A great way for little ones to learn of this literary pioneer, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Grace Hopper: Queen Of Computer Code (Laurie Wallmark)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Grace Hopper: Queen Of Computer Code, written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu, a wonderfully geeky and girl-powered biography of the programming pioneer.

Grace always loved to try new things. As a child, she was so curious to understand how clocks worked that she dismantled every clock in their home to find out. When she put together a dollhouse and realized that it had been designed without stairs, she built her own electric elevator for it. A lover of math and science, she worked hard to learn how to read and write code, even inventing a way to convert code written in English to the ones and zeroes of the programming language. She was undeniably vital to the early age of computers: when the Navy forced her to retire at sixty, they soon realized that her expertise was so critical that they offered for her to come back… for another twenty years! Grace was a brilliant programmer who changed the way we communicate with computers – more than worthy of her nickname, “Amazing Grace”!

Wonderful! Grace Hopper was a name I’ve heard every Women’s History Month, but I admit I knew little about her work, and this book was incredibly enlightening! From lessons on perseverance and curiosity to the absolutely delightful story of how the phrase “computer bug” came to be, each page explores a different aspect of Grace’s life. Real quotes from Hopper are worked into the cheerful and inviting illustrations that capture Grace’s positive attitude and playful nature. The length may be stretching it for the littlest readers, however – even JJ was starting to get antsy near the end. But overall, this is a fun, uplifting and inspiring story of a clever and adventurous woman of science, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story Of Ada Lovelace (Tanya Lee Stone)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story Of Ada Lovelace, written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, a biography of the visionary mathematician.

Ada was born into a troubled home – her father, the famous poet Lord Byron, was known for his terrible behavior, so her mother left him when Ada was only a month old. Hoping to deter Ada from her father’s “madness”, Lady Byron encouraged rigorous studies, especially in mathematics. Ada had a passion for math and a scientific mind, but also a poetic soul, yet both were considered unsuitable at the time for a lady. Fortunately, Ada made a true friend in inventor and engineer Charles Babbage; both were creative thinkers, and loved bouncing ideas back and forth in the “poetical sciences”. Babbage had devised the “Analytical Engine”, a machine that could calculate impossibly large numbers, and was trying to raise money for it. Ada wanted to help, and Charles suggested that she write notes on a paper about his machine. She did, but her understanding of the science and math behind it far exceeded what even Babbage had thought it capable of. She posited that the machine could do anything they were able to tell it to do, and wrote an algorithm that became the first published for a computer – making Ada the first-ever computer programmer.

Wonderfully educational. The story covers the important aspects of Ada’s life and scientific contributions, and the language is not dumbed down for kids. The swirly-twirly art is old school, but works beautifully here, capturing the way poetry and science combines in Ada’s mind; numbers seem to dance through the air around her. The length is best for slightly older bookworks, though JJ made it through fine, and we enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)