A year and a half ago, we featured Kate Schatz in an interview about her first book, Rad Women A-Z, along with a guest post about one of her favorite books. Now Kate is back with a new book, Rad Women Worldwide, and she’s teamed up again with illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl to present 40 women from around the world: “artists and athletes, pirates and punks, and other revolutionaries who shaped history.”
What I love about this collection is that it presents and celebrates a strong cross-section of women from around the world, not just or even primarily women from western nations and cultures. From Funmilayo Ransome Kuti to Marta to Nanny of the Maroons, from Kalpana Chawla to Frida Kahlo, the book celebrates women whose names we recognize and women whose names we don’t.
I loved reading about crazy-brave Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, who trained for their ski trip across the Antarctic by pulling tractor tires tied to their waists, and sitting inside giant ice-cream freezers to get used to the cold.
I was touched by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, who risked arrest for 38 years while trying to find out what had happened to their missing children during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Some of those mothers became among the “disappeared” themselves as their activities became too noticeable and political for the government to ignore.
I was inspired by the “Guerrilla Girls,” some 60 members of a group of artist-activists who create awareness of historical and current racism and sexism against artists, noting, for example, that while only 5% of the artists represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were women, 85% of the nude paintings and statues were female.
As a historian and a writer who has classically paid attention to women and people of color in my studies and in the books I write, I was familiar with many of the women in this book–but despite these deliberate choices for what I seek out and learn about over the course of my adult life, many of these names were new to me. I learned a lot.
Like Schatz’s first book, this is an important book for parents and teachers to have on their bookshelves. While I wished the narratives were more compelling at times, and less text-booky, this book is absolutely a necessary purchase whether for your classroom, library, or your own personal collection.