Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel by Lisa Pliscou

Brave Jane Austen

Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel by Lisa Pliscou; illustrated by Jen Corace. 2018. Gouache, ink, acrylic, and pencil. Published by Henry Holt and Company.

Brief summary: Readers learn about Jane’s childhood in the 18th century including how children lived during that time; what they did; and the limitations of career choices especially with girls. Jane did not have the same dreams and did not follow the usual footsteps of women during that time period.  Although she lived in a large house with many brothers and sister and students of her father’s, the family does have periods of poverty. We learn how difficult it was for Ms. Austen to have her stories published and how she was inspired to keep writing despite the odds against her.

Comments: This narrative nonfiction book does not have a glossary or index in the back. It does have these back sections: From the Pen of Jane Austen, Jane’s Admirers, and Learning More About Jane Austen.  The biography does not go into deep detail of her life but does give readers an idea of what it was like to be raised as a female and the limited career options women had in the 18th/19th centuries. Students will learn that it was rebellious of Jane to not marry and write instead. It was not common for women to earn their own money.

Take a Picture of Me, James Vanderzee! by Andrea J. Loney

Take a Picture of Me, James Vanderzee!

Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! by Andrea J. Loney; illustrated by Keith Mallett. 2017. Acrylic on canvas. Published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Brief summary: James VanDerZee lived in Lenox, Massachusetts with four brothers and sisters and near his aunts’ home and grandparents’ home.  A photographer visits and takes the family’s picture. James knew then that he wanted to have a camera also and take photos. Cameras were not popular yet and very expensive. He worked and was able to save enough to buy one and took many pictures of his family and classmates developing them in his closet. As he grew older, he went to Harlem and became an assistant to a photographer in New Jersey. His own way of taking photos caused many people coming in to the studio requesting him. He decided to  open his own studio in Harlem, New York. James had the knack of having people looking their best in his photographs. Over time, the camera evolved and became easy enough for people to take their own photos.  He changed from taking photos to preserving and fixing old photos.  He had a successful exhibit called “Harlem on My Mind” of his collection of forty years  of people in Harlem including several famous people.

Comments: This narrative biography also has an afterword with more details of James VanDerZee’s life, some of his photos, and explanations of some of the techniques.  He took over 75,000 photographs and was able to capture the energy of Harlem. I think it would have been beneficial to have a camera timeline in the back, so that young readers could understand how the camera changed over time. They may not realize how expensive it was to have a photo taken and that there may have only been one or two photos taken in a person’s whole life unlike now where there are photos taken constantly of a person throughout his/her lifetime.

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(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library)

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy

I Dissent

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. 2017. Traditional and digital media. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: Ruth Bader, daughter of a Russian Jewish immigrant, grew up in New York in the 1940s when men usually went to universities and got jobs while women married and were housewives. Her mother, Celia Amster Bader, wanted more for her daughter. She took her to the library to read all about successful females which helped her daughter soon realize that girls could have careers as well. As Ruth went through high school, she learned she was good at some subjects and not so good at others. She continued to high school becoming an outstanding student and had extra talents like being a baton twirler and cello player. The day before her graduation, her mother died. She decided to honor her mother’s wish and attend college in the 1950s which at that time was not a popular thing for girls to do. She met her husband, Marty Ginsburg, in college. They both went to law school, got married, and had a baby girl called Jane. Ruth experienced being in a field where there were few women and prejudices against Jewish people.  She had another child named James while she worked as a law professor.  She still managed to work and have two children which was not a very common thing women did at that time. In the 1970s,  she fought cases for women to be in the workplace but also that men had a right to stay home and take care of  children. She did such a good job as a lawyer that she was asked by President Bill Clinton to be a justice on the Supreme Court. When Judge Ginsburg votes  with the winning side, she wears a special lace collar over her robe and another one when she dissents. At age 84, Judge Ginsburg still is one of the justices of the Supreme Court.

Comments: The narrative nonfiction book outlines the highlights of Judge Ruth Ginsburg’s life including a “More About Ruth Bader Ginsburg”, “Notes on Supreme Court Cases”, and “Selected Bibliography” sections in the back. This book could be used in elementary school as well as middle.

Buy here.

(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman’s Land Army of America by Erin Hagar

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman's Land Army of America by Erin Hagar

Doing Her Bit: A Story About the Woman’s Land Army by Erin Hagar; illustrated by Jen Hill. 2016. Painted in gouache and Adobe Photoshop.

Brief summary: This story is based on Helen Stevens’s life of becoming a 1917 Woman’s Land Army of America member and becoming a a farmerette. With many men away to fight in WWI, there was a shortage of farmers. There was a lot of doubt that women could do the hard farm work.  Women would go to camps to be trained and then to local farms to work thus feeding the country and allies.

Comments: This is another grit story about not giving up and getting the job done no matter how hard it became. There are photos on the front and back pages reminding us just how farming was in the early twentieth century unlike the agricultural technology we have now.

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley; illustrated by Jessie Hartland. 2016. Gouache.

Brief summary: Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella, did not like the things and interests of other young women of her time. She co-worked with Charles Babbage to invent the Analytical Engine which could run any mathematical calculation by using punched cards and considered the first programmable all-purpose digital computer. Ada wrote the mathematical code. Ada wrote a scientific paper about the invention giving it scientific and mathematical attention. She translated the work from French to English.

Comments: Back pages explain  how  both scientists worked on the engine, but there was some concern of what each contributed.  Good addition for a coding study.

(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).