BWW Review: BRAZEN: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
In a time where people are speaking out and not letting anyone stop them or bring them down, it is more important than ever to find the trailblazers of the past and make your own path into the future. History repeats itself. Over the centuries, women and their rights and ideas have been squashed time and again. Yet there are always a few women so confident in themselves and what they want that they push back against society and carve their own path in life. They are heroes, idols, and people that we don't always hear about because history doesn't venerate them and teach their stories to young people. Times are finally changing, and so many books are now being published that celebrate women and teach young girls to be proud of being female.
One such book is the recently released graphic novel BRAZEN: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu. The book is full of short biographies chronicling the histories of many incredible women. Some of them are familiar, while others are brand-new.
Each story opens with the birth, life, and sometimes death of the woman being introduced, like this:
Each biography is told in 2-3 double-page spreads, and each one concludes with a gorgeous image told in its own two page spread, like this:
Here are a few of my favorite full-spreads from the book:
Some of my favorite histories included the Las Mariposas sisters, whose story is tragic, but whose lives gave birth to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women every year on November 25th, and women such as Nzinga and Wu Zetian, who became queens and empresses against the odds, and Frances Glessner Lee, whose hobby created an entire program at Harvard and led to breakthroughs in forensic science--she was even the inspiration behind the character of Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote. There are women whose histories were completely new, and others who are ingrained in pop culture. The Wizard of Oz is so beloved that everyone knows a lot of what took place on the movie set, including hearing about the fire that harmed Wicked Witch of the West actress Margaret Hamilton. But not everyone knows how Hamilton got her start in acting or what led her to audition for the role in the first place.
BRAZEN retells history in a fun, visual way. The stories are great for kids, teens, and adults alike. They make great additions to the classroom and for teachers to introduce into their lesson plans in a way that will really appeal to kids. Graphic novels are popular and even engage reluctant readers. They are also great for visual learners, such as myself, and help create a story in our head that is easy to recall when taking a test or writing an essay.
Some of the stories may be too violent or sexy for younger kids, such as this panel here:
These are women and role models we need in life. Their stories need to be heard. These are women from all different backgrounds and sexualities and races and even disabilities, all working toward the goal of bettering the lives of others, of making a difference, of following their hearts despite the odds. These are the women whose voices are often unheard, whose stories need to live on. These are the women who are the inspiration for tomorrow's female trailblazers. Their stories make a difference, and the fact that we can hand books like BRAZEN to young, impressionable females is amazing.
BRAZEN can only contain the lives of so many women, and Bagieu creates a list at the book's conclusion of 30 more incredible ladies she ran out of room for. I would love to see Bagieu and Macmillan First Second create more books in the line the way GOODNIGHT FOR REBEL GIRLS by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo recently came out with a sequel because the first book was so popular.
Want an even closer look at BRAZEN? Check out this video I created with an even closer look at the book and its artwork:
BRAZEN: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu was published by Macmillan First Second on March 6, 2018.