by Eliza Sarlos, illustrated by Grace Lee - Scribe Publications, 2013
ages 0 to >100 years / coffee table, powerful lives, s.o.s.e.
Every once in a while, we each need something to jolt us out of the everyday and remind us that:
We have the capacity to do and be great
There is still plenty of growing to do
People are endowed with wonderful abilities to share with others
There is a tremendous amount of good in the world
Sacrifice for a greater good is worth remembering
There are many different ways to contribute
Our talents are valuable / and
Women have been and continue to be a force for good.
Amazing Babes is just that sort of book. It’s lovely to touch and to feel, beautiful to look at and simply inspiring to read. One aspirational quality from each of 20 remarkable ‘amazing babes’ is highlighted throughout its pages, like:
“I want the conviction and courage of Aung San Suu Kyi”
“I want to be radical, like Emma Goldman”
"I want the compassion and commitment of Mum Shirl"
With a really lovely drawing of each woman on the facing page and sparse text, this could be a fairly quick book to run through. Except that you’ll want to know more about each woman, so you’ll go to the back of the book where there’s a paragraph about the achievements of each of them.
And even then, you’ll still want to know more. So you’ll end up googling the women – and in my case buying biographies of a few of them!
The women in the book come from a wide variety of educational, racial, social, national and historical backgrounds. It’s a great mix.
Chronologically, the earliest story is of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first Englishwoman to practise medicine - and the most recent is Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2014. (that piece of information came after Amazing Babes was written – one of the benefits of owning a book is that you can scribble notes like this in the margins as I’ve done for Malala.)
One of the really great things about this book is that it doesn’t value-load. Young fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson is given the same weight as, say, Irena Sendler who saved hundreds of children from the Nazis, or Edith Cowan the first woman elected to an Australian Parliament.
So the qualities of the women become more important than the actions they performed. And ultimately I think we all hope most for strength of character in our children and in ourselves.
This is book for girls and women and for boys and men. It’s a book to inspire us to keep growing and to develop an appreciation for good works.