Friday, February 23, 2018

Good Night Stories about Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Hardcover, 212 pgs, Pub Dec 1st 2016 by Timbuktu Labs, Orig Title: Storie della buonanotte per bambine ribelli: 100 vite di donne straordinarie, ISBN13: 9780997895810, Series: Storie della buonanotte per bambine ribelli #1, Lit AwardsWaterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2017)

The subtitle of this collection is 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, and it is beautifully done. The short passages cover every continent and every race, religion, and sexuality…that is, the stories are about girls and women with lesbians and transgender individuals identifying as female included. It is ravishingly interesting.

Each short passage is a tightly written biography suitable for 9-14 year-olds, informative, and inspiring. Many unusual job descriptions and lifelong purpose are described, expanding our horizons about the scope of what is possible. As an adult, I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did nor enjoy it as much.

This book is about rebels. It challenges us to think again about what we admire and what we don't...and why. It is a fantastic teaching tool. I can imagine a mother reading an entry alongside her preteen (of either sex, by the way) and discussing it for a short while so that the implications of each success sink in: "Why would that person be considered a rebel?" "What do you think about what that person did?" "Do you know anyone who has done things like this?" The mother is going to recognize some of the names and so can add whatever backstory is not in the book.

A few examples from the stories are
✦ Inventor Ann Makosinski, a fifteen year-old Canadian who won first prize in Google Science Fair for inventing a flashlight that doesn’t need batteries, wind, or sun--just body heat.
✦ Amna Al Haddad, weight lifter from the United Arab Emirates. She was a journalist and discovered she really enjoyed exercising! She began to work out in a gym with weights for the first time in her life as an adult. She was good at it and began training for the Olympics.
✦ Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist who was murdered for reporting on the truth of what she saw in the brutal civil war in Chechnya.
✦ Jane Goodall is among the women to emulate for having her own mind and studying a subject so deeply that she became the expert.
✦ Hayshepsut was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled Egypt long before Cleopatra became Queen. Records of her were destroyed after her death, but archeologists were able to piece together a record of her successful rule, the first (and only?) female pharaoh.
Included with each biography is a full page color representation of the subject, and a quote of something they said or wrote. Next to the short bio of Misty Copeland, for instance, is a drawing of her in flight during a ballet performance with a quote that reads, “Dance found me.”

The authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, studied in Italy and the United States where they founded Timbuktu Labs, a children’s media innovation lab. What’s that? you may well ask. The authors define the mission of Timbuktu as committed to “redefining the boundaries of children’s media through a combination of thought-provoking content, stellar design, and cutting-edge technology.” They designed the first iPad magazine for children. The start-up has created mobile apps and creative content for users in more than 70 countries.

It’s more than just new. It’s exciting. The first edition of this book was published in 2016. Since then it has gone through multiple reprintings, and in 2017 Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 was published. There are apparently also coloring books, temporary tattoos, and posters that go along with the books and can be purchased separately. It’s become an industry, with good reason. If you have a girl in the family in the target age range, check it out. Just when you thought your girls were too old for bedtime stories, this may bring it all back.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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