Mother-daughter collaborators Yolen and Stemple, who previously partnered with Guay on The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories, revisit the lives and legendary misdeeds of 26 notorious women in this often witty chronological romp. Jezebel, Salome, Calamity Jane, Mata Hari, and many more get their own brief chapters, complete with punny subtitles (“Delilah: A Mere Snip of a Girl”). The team’s tight, droll storytelling maintains a light tone: “Always conscious of her image, Bonnie [Parker] asked one kidnapped police officer to tell everyone she did not smoke cigars.... She may have been an outlaw, but she was not a smoker!” Comics sections from Guay end each chapter, showing Yolen and Stemple debating, via Socratic repartee, the guiltiness of each femme fatale, an entertaining if slightly egregious bit of authorial intrusion. If the authors’ banter hasn’t prompted readers to question the badness of these bad girls, the conclusion directly solicits the consideration: “Would we still consider these women bad? Or would we consider them victims of bad circumstances?” An extensive bibliography and index wrap up this narrative of nefarious—or not?—women. Ages 10–13. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013 Release date: 02/01/2013 Genre: Children's
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