Created and written by Julia Pierpoint and with illustrations by Manjit Thapp, this little book is compiled in the same manner as a little book of Catholic saints is: each “saint” is a woman (or two, or even a group of women) who made a difference, stood out, inspired us, and still continue to inspire us. Each icon contains a feast date, and a picture where they are portrayed in “saint-like” fashion (if you have ever seen a Catholic prayer card you will know what I mean). There is also a short summary of each woman’s life alongside each entry.
What I really loved about the summaries is that they are never a standard biography, something that one could find with a few clicks on the internet. Instead they are real anecdotes, snippets of a conversation, an extraordinary accomplishment accompanied by a tiny detail of significant importance, or just some information that isn’t readily known about the person. It really made me want to actually go out and get to know more about quite a few of the women depicted in the book!
The list of women chosen is very interesting. The book includes women from around the world but the focus is mainly US-centric. I felt like I learnt about some personalities that I had never heard of before which was pretty cool. The usual suspects can be found (Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Maya Angelou etc), but other lesser celebrated but equally important women are also featured, such as Junko Tabei, Grace Hopper, the Grimké Sisters,. I didn’t realize that Delores Huerta, and not her union co-founder Cesar Chavez, was the one who coined the phrase “Si, se puede!”! I did find that there were some figures that I would not have typically thought of as feminist icons, and some that were missing. There is a page at the end of the book where you can add your own personal “matron saint” which I thought was a nice touch.
This is a well thought-out book, a collection of amazing women who should all have their own special places in history. I’m going to enjoy reading pages to my kids when they get a little older. I LOVE that it includes ALL women, diverse and inclusive. I think I would have just liked to have seen more information in the summaries, but if that had been the case it probably wouldn’t really have fitted into the whole “book of saints” idea. I would have liked to see some mention of British Suffragettes, or Alice Paul for example.
The illustrations are beautiful - each picture bears a good likeness to the character they are portraying while conveying strength and resilience. You can also see each woman’s personality shine through the illustrations, something that takes a ton of talent and imagination to do!
The Little Book of Feminist Saints will be published by Random House on March 6, 2018.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy.