I’ve got some great bios for Women’s History Month. Add these to your displays!
Only the Best: The Exceptional Life and Fashion of Ann Lowe, by Kate Messner & Margaret E. Powell/Illustrated by Erin K. Robinson, (Oct. 2022,. Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452161600
How do you tell the story of the first nationally known African-American fashion designer? You assemble an award-winning author, a costume historian, and a fashion designer and illustrator. Ann Lowe, granddaughter of an enslaved seamstress and daughter of a designer for society ball gowns, learned her craft at her mother and grandmother’s sides. Refusing to be overlooked, even when her white employers took credit for her work, she made a name for herself, catching the eye of Jacqueline Bouvier, fiancée to John F. Kennedy. Messner and Powell reconstruct Lowe’s life from various sources, including interviews with Lowe, to create this picture book biography of a woman who knew her worth. Robinson’s digital artwork uses color and texture to create spreads that look like they were created from mixed media; she sets stages that Lowe’s life plays out upon for readers. When readers see Ann Lowe standing at last in front of her own store front, arms raised in victory, they will rejoice along with her. An author’s note, quotations, and photos make up the back matter, and there is a bibliography for further reading. Endpapers show a textured rendering of scissors and fabric flowers, for which Ann Lowe was so well known. A stunning book and an excellent choice for picture book biographies.
Only the Best has starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Kirkus. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture has an extensive webpage on Lowe; The New Yorker and The Vintage Woman both have detailed articles with photos.
Courage in Her Cleats: The Story of Soccer Star Abby Wambach, by Kim Chaffee/Illustrated by Alexandra Badiu, (Jan. 2023, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645676294
This picture book biography on U.S. Women’s soccer player Abby Wambach is a study in perseverance and determination. Beginning with Wambach’s childhood, Chaffee draws a verbal picture of an outspoken competitor who refused to give up when the going got tough. As Chaffee emphasizes throughout the story, when things get tough, “Abby was tougher”. The narrative follows Wambach through high school, college, and the U.S. Women’s Olympics Team; her 2008 injury and rehabilitation, and her return. Wambach emerges as a dedicated teammate who is quick to share the spotlight and encourage her teammates. Badiu’s colorful illustrations bathe Wambach in colorful, star-studded waves, setting her apart from everyone else. Badiu’s rendering of Wambach’s iconic pose, holding the American flag, greets readers at the title page. Facts on Wambach, a brief glossary of soccer terms, and a bibliography round out back matter. A good choice for sports collections.
Interested readers and sports fans can visit Abby Wambach’s webpage for more info. She also has a biographical page on the U.S. Women’s Team webpage.