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Seven Brave Women

by Betsy Hearne
Illustrated by Bethanne Anderson

Published by Greenwillow, 1997
24 pages
ISBN: 0-688-14502-7

Ages 5 - 11

Family history meets fine art in this singular tribute to women, written from the perspective of a young girl who recounts the family stories she has heard about her female forebears, going back to her great-great-great grandmother. Each of the women is placed in the context of her time by the child citing the name of the war era she lived through but pointedly stating each time that " . . . she did not fight in it." This brilliant choice on the author's part aptly serves more than one purpose: it playfully gives young readers a clear historical text-book time line; it contrasts the lives of men and women; it underscores the book's premise that women have contributed to history by leading everyday lives requiring strength and courage; and, most importantly perhaps, it gives the story continuity through a lyrical use of repetition that reminds us this history is alive due to an oral tradition. The colorful figures in the young girl's past--an artist, a missionary, an architect, a secretary--seem at once ordinary and extraordinary. The naive style of Bethanne Andersen's rich oil paintings perfectly capture the story's sense of history, as well as its serious, yet celebratory, tone. Just as Hearne uses the repeated phrase about women not fighting in wars to tie the story together, Andersen uses a rose-colored ribbon, seen streaming horizontally across the background of each page and held at the book's beginning and end in the beak of a dove. Both devices are subtle, artfully adding depth and meaning to an inspiring picture book for older readers. Honor Book, CCBC Caldecott Award Discussion CCBC categories: Easy Fiction; Biography and Autobiography; Historical People, Places and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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