A populous gallery of courageous, independent women from (fairly) recent times.
Skeers’ roster of acrobats, aviators, professional wrestlers, mountaineers, rescuers, survivors, medical workers, and intrepid travelers has a mildly antique flavor, being drawn largely from the 19th and 20th centuries (a few of the subjects are still alive, mostly in retirement). On the other hand, nearly all of her choices are likely to be unfamiliar to young readers. Arranged beneath the subtitle’s three headers (and alphabetized by first name rather than last), each gets a rubric (“Arctic Survivor,” “Bodacious Bicyclist,” “Lionhearted Librarian”), a stylized full-length portrait from Gosling with an iconographic border, and a one-page highlight-reel tribute that generally ends on an inspirational note: Sophie Blanchard, “dainty and daring” balloonist, “bested the danger and defied social norms, stereotypes, and even gravity itself to prove that women could successfully achieve their high-flying dreams.” The author doesn’t cast her net too widely, as all but 12 of these putative role models hail from the United States or Europe, and though nonwhite minorities are decently, if not strongly, represented, she is inconsistent about noting them. Also, the large bibliography is not at all user-friendly, being arranged by author rather than subject and presented in an indigestible mass of miniscule type.
Unvarnished but nevertheless valuable for fishing so many admirably nonconformist women from obscurity. (index) (Collective biography. 10-14)