We’re so excited to be celebrating Women’s History Month during March! What a fun time to learn about some extraordinary women and their accomplishments throughout the centuries. If you’re figuring out where to start, one of my favorite sections at the library for learning about amazing people is in the Junior Nonfiction section with our awesome collection of picture book biographies.
Picture book style biographies for kids have really taken off in recent years. I love these even as an adult–this type of book offers visually appealing illustrations and is told simply with often only a couple sentences on each page spread. This makes it very unintimidating to dive into learning about people you may have never heard of before!
By Mara Rockliff
One picture book biography I find enthralling was Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic. Adelaide Herrman was a performer who danced, did acrobatics, and boldly joined a family of famous magicians. When her husband, Herrman the Great, died unexpectedly, she took his place to perform his famous magic act, including the terrifying “bullet catching trick.” She continued starring in her own shows for another thirty years after. Even Harry Houdini was a fan of hers.
The layout of this book is just phenomenal, too. The illustrations are big, bold, and showy—imitating the dramatic style of old-time circus and magic show posters. And I love how the illustrator captured the details of the time-period’s clothing, including Adelaide’s dazzling magician costumes.
In the supplementary pages at the back of this book, you learn that Addie’s work was largely forgotten after her death in the 1930s. She had written a detailed memoir of her life but it hadn’t been published, just kept in family archives. Many decades later, another female magician (Margaret Steele–who is still performing today) went looking for details to replicate parts of Adelaide’s act and the leather notebook containing Adelaide’s life story was found. It makes me wonder if there are other stories of incredible women that have been lost to time and are just waiting to be rediscovered!
Excited to learn about more fantastic women in history? Visit our Women’s History Month page for activities and book suggestions!
Written by Molly, Assistant Childrens Librarian