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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bad Girls, written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple and illustrated by Rebecca Guay. Charlesbridge, Thomas Allen & Son. 2013. $21.95 ages 10 and up

"Often, though, a tough girl, an outspoken girl - an active, smart, forward-looking girl - is  mistaken for a bad one. A strong leader is considered a wrong leader when the leader is female. In this book we are taking a look back through history at all manner of famous female felons. We're looking at the baddest of the bad, as well as those who may have been just misunderstood."

Subtitled Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves & Other Female Villains, this book written by a mother-daughter team offers up brief and entertaining profiles of 26 women who won notoriety, deserved or undeserved, throughout history. Each inclusion takes the same format...a few informative pages followed by a graphic comic page, featuring the authors discussing their research and their oft-differing opinions concerning the women presented.

Rebecca Guay ensures that readers have a sense of time and place in her illustrations. The graphic conversations add humor and are sure to attract attention.

It reads like conversation, recapping the events that gained these women a modicum of fame. The facts presented will intrigue an interested audience and allow readers to do some of their own speculating concerning certain of the crimes and misbehaviors.

Most of the names I had  heard; I did not know many of their stories. I found it easy to read, and quite revealing. The authors have included a comprehensive bibliography that is sure to encourage a more in-depth consideration of some of the women portrayed. An index will quickly return readers to those pages they found most compelling. It will be interesting for contemporary history students to consider the events of the times in which these women lived and try to put their crimes in the context of modern day 'news'. Were they all 'bad' girls? Really?

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