Women Who Led The Way

Women Who Led The Way
Mick Manning and Brita Granström
Otter-Barry Books

Herein, team Mike and Brita celebrate 21 inspiring women adventurers and explorers from all over the world, going back as far as the 9th century. Speaking for themselves, these women are exemplars of the huge amount of courage, determination and sheer power their achievements demonstrate against the odds: boundary breakers all for sure.

A new name to me, the first to tell her story is Aud (the deep-minded), daughter of a Viking ruler of the Hebrides, who, after her warrior son was killed in battle, secretly had a ship built and then together with a loyal crew of twenty warriors, captained a voyage of escape and discovery, eventually starting a Christian settlement on an Icelandic hillside.

French woman Jeanne Baret, disguised herself as her beloved husband’s manservant in order to accompany him on a voyage that eventually took them around the world, exploring and collecting specimens of plants, shells and stones for study, retiring to her native France ten years later, after the death of her husband.

Not all the women travelled so far from home though: In the 18th-19th century Caroline Herschel whose vision was damaged by childhood Typhus, became an astronomer who not only discovered eight comets, but was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Astronomical Society, even being elected an Honorary Member.

Some of the others featured will likely be familiar names to readers – adult ones at least. There’s Mary Anning, Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery to become an army scout and political freedom activist, undercover journalist Nellie Bly, Bessie Coleman the first African-American and Native American female to hold a pilot’s licence, Amelia Earhart (first woman pilot to fly the Atlantic), archaeologist Mary Leakey and nature conservationist Jane Goodall.

It’s impossible in a short review to name all those included herein but we meet Barbara Hillary polar explorer;

the first woman to climb to the top of Everest, and the first female amputee to climb both Everest and Mt. Vinson. Wow! “Set your goals high in life and don’t stop until you reach there.” are words spoken by this inspirational mountaineer on the final spread.

Set into many of Brita’s arresting scenes along with the main narrative, are small illustrated fact boxes, some giving dramatic moments in the life of the featured woman, others providing brief details of another one or two who followed in her footsteps.

One can’t help but feel awed by the achievements of every single one of those exceptional women. Adults who want to inspire children, either in school or at home, to reach high and never stop believing in themselves, should make sure they read this book.

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