When I was a teenager pretty much the only thing I liked about babysitting was playing with the toys and reading books to the kids. It wasn’t just the stories but the pictures too. Since graphic novels became a thing I have been super chuffed to read some good ones now and then. One of those good ones recently was Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World The book is one of those perfect “I have ten minutes and don’t want to sit and stare at a wall” sorts of books. It is filled with short graphic biographies of women throughout history and from around the world. The art is great and the bios are punchy and clever.
One of the things I liked best about this book is that it has biographies of women who are not the usual suspects in books about women. Sure, there are some of the ones you expect, but there is also Nzinga, Queen of Ndongo and Matamba, Wu Zetian, a Chinese empress, rapper Sonita Ali Zadeh, writer Tove Jansson, and animal scientist Temple Grandin. And I discovered Betty Davis, a kickass American funk and soul singer way ahead of her time whose music I have since listened to and downloaded because it is a-mazing.
Have you heard of the previously unpublished Vita Sackville-West story? It was found in a miniature book library in the dollhouse of Queen Mary at Windsor Castle. First of all, that must be some dollhouse! Apparently when the dollhouse was new, various writers were asked to send a story for the library. Vita did and now it has finally been published so we can all read it.
A Note of Explanation is a charming story about a “haunted” dollhouse. But it is no ghost living in it, it is a sort of Orlando-Vita-like incarnation inhabiting the house. It is wonderfully illustrated by Kate Baylay. One two-page spread even has a portrait of Vita hidden in plain sight. It made me squee when I saw it.
The final book with pictures really is a children’s book. Cycle City by Alison Farrell is a kind of “where’s Waldo” with a bicycle theme. Of course I loved it! Cycle City is having a bike parade but not all of the invitations have been delivered yet. The mayor makes the rounds to hand them out. Each two-page spread is a different part of the city filled with the various animal inhabitants on a variety of sometimes very interesting bicycles. Your task is to see if you can spot the mayor delivering an invitation. It’s a delightful book, even for a grown up who likes cycling!