GO GIRL: A STORYBOOK OF EPIC NZ WOMEN
BARBARA ELSE (PUFFIN, $ 45)
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.