To say I’ve enjoyed working on the books so far in the Great Women series would be an understatement. I’ve learned so much about the challenges the women I researched faced, and how their achievements alone were astounding but when you put them into the social context of the time they were down right extraordinary.
Before I started working on these titles I’d never heard of Gertrude Ederle, the cross-channel swimmer who defied expectation and proved a woman could swim across the icy waters of the English Channel, and beat the fastest time set by a man. I was shocked that the nail-bitingly thrilling (and heart-sinkingly tragic) story of Noor Khan, courageous children’s author turned WWII undercover wireless radio operator and unlikely heroine isn’t better known. I was mesmerised by Josephine Baker’s wild dancing, and by her story of being dazzlingly different and brave enough to set the stage for change and racial equality. (Basically I could go on and write a very long post about all the astounding things about extraordinary women I’ve discovered.)
When lots of different inspiration points, and a conversation with my agent at Plum Pudding Mark, prompted me to explore getting this project published it felt like an exciting new challenge, and a very worthwhile one. It was a chance to celebrate women’s achievements, the well known and the more untold, throughout history and use my skills to make those stories accessible to young readers. As far as I could see there wasn’t a book that existed for Fantastically Great Women’s readership that put a collection of inspirational women in one place. (I was a bit baffled as to why that didn’t already exist which was all the more reason to do the book!)
While working on the project I knew the message behind Great Women was an important one for children to know more about, since the first book has been published and the second has been in the pipeline I’ve realised just how much people wanted a way into talking about what women have achieved through history and to prompt young readers to think about how they will shape the future with their aspirations, dreams and talents. (And by readers I mean boys and girls, there’s no reason a boy can’t be prompted to think about how he would like to make history via an inspirational woman’s story!) It’s been so exciting to share in reader’s experiences and hear about how families have used the book, I think much of the time with access to Google close by so questions about the finer details of each great woman’s life.
Children being aware of the inequalities of the past, questioning what is going on now and feeling empowered to follow their talents and to explore their aspirations is how we’ll move towards greater equality and fairer life chances for everyone. So, if Great Women can play a small part in that journey for young people I am utterly delighted.
Happy publication day Fantastically Great Women Who Made History! Anyone wishing to join me in a heartfelt girl power (and boy power, the book is TOTALLY for boys to enjoy too) fist pump, feel free to do so!