Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
An online dictionary says that a poem is a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such Susan formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure. In the book Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World, Susan Hood celebrates 14 women with 13 poems, illustrated by 13 different women.
According to the timeline near the front of the book, the women shaking things up are from four different centuries, although most are from the 20th century. They range in age from 17 to their 30s. The book covers both familiar faces and unknown ones, from Nellie Bly to Angela Zhang, and from Frida Kahlo to Malala Yousafzai (the girl shot in the face by the Taliban).
The poetry styles are rhyming stanzas, one set of Limericks, one shape poem, one acrostic poem, several that don’t rhyme, and one with a repeating line. The poem about Frances Moore Lappe, the author of books on eating local foods, is 12 lines of perfect and close rhymes for the word cuisine.
The coolest thing about this book, besides the fact that 13 illustrators share credit for the art, is that it has bonus features throughout that make it user friendly and great for school reports.
The book starts with a table of contents. At the end of every page is a summary paragraph about the woman. There is an author’s note, and a “sources, books, websites and more” page that shows the bibliography for each woman. There is even a page of acknowledgments, plus the aforementioned timeline. No wonder it needed eight more pages than a typical picture book.
The paleontologist page is entitled “Buried Treasure” and is illustrated with blues, black and white by Hadley Cooper. The “Turning the Tide” story about Annette Kellerman inventing the first modern bathing suit has ethereal water colors by Emily Winfield Martin.
The “Storyteller” art by Sarah Palacios, about Pura Belpre, is bright and childlike. The “Broken” story art about Frida Kahlo, painted by Erin K. Robinson, is as bizarre as Kahlo’s self-portraits. The “Secret Agent Sisters” story covers two women and their spying during World War II with art by Sophie Blackall.
The Ruby Bridges story is done in collage style. “A New School” is illustrated by Oge Mora, and she also illustrated the cover.
This book stands out from the rest for so many reasons. The collaboration, the women chosen, the layout, the bonus material all make it a one-of-a-kind biography that will surely start a new genre of picture book biographies. When one woman cannot sustain a whole book, she can fill up two pages and introduce the world to her otherwise celebrated or not-so-celebrated accomplishments.
Congratulations to Susan Hood for writing a groundbreaking biography and to everyone at Harper who put it all together.