North & South - - Review -

In the wake of the US pub­li­ca­tion Good­night Sto­ries for Rebel Girls, pro­fil­ing heroic women, comes our own no less in­spir­ing and con­sid­er­ably more re­lat­able ver­sion.

The sub­jects of this an­thol­ogy of role mod­els’ life sto­ries range – al­pha­bet­i­cally – from “Ahu­mai Te Paer­ata: War­rior” to “Yvette Wil­liams: Ath­lete”, via singers, writ­ers, sports­peo­ple, sci­en­tists and a spy, Nancy Wake. There’s a sat­is­fy­ing bal­ance between his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and liv­ing paragons such as Lorde and Eat My Lunch founder Lisa King, whose achieve­ments young read­ers will be able to con­tinue to watch un­fold­ing for years to come.

That this is meant to be an in­spi­ra­tional book is left in no doubt by a con­clud­ing time­line of “Go Girls Through His­tory”, which in­cludes in last place “You”.

Else’s text is com­ple­mented by the work of nine il­lus­tra­tors – all women – whose dif­fer­ing styles pro­vide va­ri­ety and another re­minder of an area in which there is no short­age of ex­cel­lent local ex­em­plars.

Some­times the author sounds as if she is chan­nelling the voice of chil­dren’s books from a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions back – not that there’s any­thing wrong with that, it’s a “sto­ry­book”, af­ter all. Many of the sto­ries be­gin along the lines of “Once upon a time” or “Once, far away...”. There’s an ir­re­sistible charm to “Once there was a girl who didn’t plan to be a singer. Her name was Ella, and she lived in Auck­land. She loved drama lessons and read­ing.”

The book is specif­i­cally aimed at girls, but it would be a use­ful gift for boys, to help them re­alise they’re not the only ones who can do cool stuff.

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