Book Review: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.
This is exactly the kind of book I love to give as a gift. I’m always on the lookout for excellent books featuring strong women to either send to children of friends or use as graduation gifts etc. Get this on your radar if you do the same.
This 300+ page volume is filled with charming, lovely, vibrant art that brings to life the biographies of 29 women throughout history. Each biography runs 3-7 pages and Bagieu infuses her characters and conversations with so much humor and life. If you are a Kate Beaton fan, you’ll be into these comics. The women profiled in this collection go beyond the usual people we find in books like this. In fact, I should probably be embarrassed to say, I hadn’t ever heard of a fair number of these women. Bagieu writes about Clementine Delait, who in the early 1900s, became rich and famous as a bar owner/tender and cafe owner, and also because of her beard (in the illustrations, Delait repeatedly irritatedly asks people, “What is wrong with you?” when they ask to touch it or suggest she join a circus). Readers learn about Margaret Hamilton, who was Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz; Las Mariposas, revolutionary sisters in the Dominican Republic; mid-to-late 1800s warrior and shaman Lozen; entertainer and swimsuit innovator Annette Kellerman; painter and Moomin creator Tove Jansson; Liberian social worker Laymah Gbowee; Christine Jorgensen, one of the first Americans to undergo gender confirmation surgery; Temple Grandin, autism spokesperson and animal behavior specialist; Afghanistan-born rapper Sonita Alizadeh; singer Betty Davis; rock group The Shaggs; crime miniaturist Frances Glessner Lee, and many others.
This inclusive look at noteworthy women is a must for all collections. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, but the choice to write about so many women who are less well known helps this stand out from the other (great) books similar to this. Long live unconventional women!
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 03/06/2018
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network