Shakti Girls: Poems of Inspiring Women, by Shetal Shah/Illustrated by Kavita Rajput, (March 2023, Shakti Girls LLC), $17.99, ISBN: 9798986954509
Shakti is the Hindu word that refers “to the [female] power and energy that creates and maintains the universe”. Inspired by the concept of shakti, Shetal Shah created 13 poems about groundbreaking, inspiring Indian women. Women like author Jhumpa Lahiri, of whom Shah writes “Nilanjana, meaning ‘one with blue eyes’, / merges two worlds on the page (though it’s hard in real life” and freedom fighter Kasturba Gandhi, who Shah praises by writing “Inspired satyagraha (fair advocacy), / she resisted with peace and equality”. Shah includes arts and sciences, politics and sports, to spotlight how Indian women have been changemakers in every area: actress Mindy Kaling shares space with tennis star Sania Mirza, mathematician Shakuntala Devi, and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Full-page colorful illustrations bring these outstanding women to life for readers, and each portrait includes fun details that readers are invited to find. There is new vocabulary to discover, with new words defined on each page. Back matter includes a page for readers to illustrate their own shakti and a word search – if you’re putting this into circulation, photocopy these pages and have some ready to hand out. Visit Shetal Shah’s webpage for additional downloadable activities. A nice new voice with an interesting collection of poems, this is an additional purchase for strong biography collections.