Courageous leaders, activists, creators, and pioneers guaranteed to inspire.

A compilation of short biographies of 25 Middle Eastern women, all trailblazers in their fields, and their achievements, from ancient times to the modern day.

Each chapter (about four pages long) introduces one woman, highlighting her achievements on the first page, which faces an illustration in a range of styles but with saturated colors that complement the page backgrounds. The second spread goes into further detail about each subject’s life. Some of the women included from long ago include Empress Theodora, Queen Nefertiti, and poet Rabi’a al Adawiyya. Among the present-day women are Manahel Thabet from Yemen, a scientist, economist, and mathematician; Maha al Balushi, an Omani pilot and activist; May Ziadeh, an Egyptian writer and feminist; and Amal Clooney, a Lebanese British human rights lawyer. A variety of different accomplishments and careers are introduced, particularly for present-day women. Tarnowska defines terms, identifies present-day areas where some of these women live or lived, and writes about how each woman succeeded and what she has done to change the world. Many, ranging from Cleopatra to Zahra Lari, an ice skater from Abu Dhabi, followed their dreams, whether or not they were supported by family, friends, and community. These biographies will both inspire readers and correct misconceptions and stereotypes about women from the Middle East. There is a glossary but no bibliography or list of resources. A map defines the Middle Eastern countries represented in the book. (This review has been updated for clarity.)

Courageous leaders, activists, creators, and pioneers guaranteed to inspire. (map. glossary) (Collective biography. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-870-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020


From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015


A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself.

Middle school drama hits hard in this coming-of-age graphic memoir.

Natural competitor Misty has faced off against the boys for years, always coming out on top, but now they’re moving on without her into the land of full-contact football. Never one to back away from a challenge, Misty resolves to join the team and convinces her best friend, Bree, to join her. While Misty pours herself into practicing, obviously uninterested Bree—who was motivated more by getting to be around boys than doing sports—drifts toward popular queen bee Ava, creating an uneasy dynamic. Feeling estranged from Bree, Misty, who typically doesn’t think much about her appearance, tries to navigate seventh grade—even experimenting with a more traditionally feminine gender expression—while also mastering her newfound talent for tackling and facing hostility from some boys on the team. Readers with uncommon interests will relate to the theme of being the odd one out. Social exclusion and cutting remarks can be traumatic, so it’s therapeutic to see Misty begin to embrace her differences instead of trying to fit in with frenemies who don’t value her. The illustrations are alive with color and rich emotional details, pairing perfectly with the heartfelt storytelling. The husband-and-wife duo’s combined efforts will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale. Main characters present as White; some background characters read as Black.

A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-306469-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

Close Quickview