Monday, March 4, 2013

Bad Girls - a good review

Illustration copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Guay
Yolen, Jane and Heidi E. Y. Stemple. 2013. Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Just in time for Women's History Month, the mother-daughter duo of Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple has released a fun compendium of "bad" women in history.  From  Delilah, the stealthy hairstylist of the Bible (circa 110BC), to gangsters' gal, Virginia Hill (1916-1966), Yolen and Stemple highlight history's most rebellious, racy, raucous, reprehensible, and sometimes resourceful women.

The choice of subjects, twenty-six in all, isn't the only thing that makes Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains a unique addition to the collection of books on women in history. Illustrations are provided by Rebecca Guay. In addition to a comic portrait of each notorious woman,

"Cleopatra"
Illustration copyright © 2013
 by Rebecca Guay
included after each chapter is a graphic novel-style panel featuring Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.  Each panel is set in a new location (these ladies took their "research" to the ends of the earth - shopping, eating and sightseeing, in Egypt, London, Massachusetts, wherever this gallery of rogues led them!), where Yolen and Stemple debate history's treatment of each woman.  Clever and humorous, these panels remind readers that societal and personal circumstances often dictate behaviors.  With the exception of the truly bad, Elizabeth B├íthory, Yolen makes a case for each woman.  No, they may not have all been innocent, but given their particular circumstances, some of these women may have been given a bad historical rap. Stemple provides the counterpoint - bad is bad, regardless of circumstance.  Readers will be left to decide for themselves, but regardless of conclusion, they will understand that the role of women throughout history has not been an easy one.

Despite the subject matter, Yolen and Stemple maintain a light-hearted tone in Bad Girls, as evidenced by the chapter titles:  "Lizzie Borden (1860-1927): One Whacky Woman," "Anne Boleyn (1500-1536): She Lost Her Head for Love."

Resources are included, offering interested older readers a jump start on where to find further information. There is more than just fun to be had with Bad Girls; download these resources from the publisher's site:
Be sure to read the conversation between Heidi and Jane that appeared on KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month! 


It's Nonfiction Monday.  Today's roundup host is Supratentorial.

4 comments:

  1. Not liking the cover on this, although the author and topic will make me pick it up. I've had a lot of teachers asking for readers' theater, too, so thanks for including that link.

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  2. Sounds like an interesting, provocative title. Looking forward to reading the mother-daughter dialogue and learning more about these bad girls.

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  3. The cover does give one pause...but the content sounds wonderful.

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    1. In my library, Bad Girls is cataloged as a young adult title. I think the cover is intended to be as rebellious as the women it covers. ;)

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