Amazing Women of the Middle East: 25 Stories from Ancient Times to Present Day

Wafa’ Tarnowska, illus. by Margarida Esteves et al. Crocodile, $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-62371-870-1
Tarnowska, a multilingual storyteller and translator, brings a brimming enthusiasm to this collection of short biographies of Middle Eastern women. With vivid illustrations by five female illustrators, the book’s profiles, arranged chronologically, present women who broke the mold, from Queen Nefertiti to Zahra Lari. The author strikes a casual tone, sprinkling her prose with “did you know?” queries and exclamation marks. Portraits of well-known ancient women such as Scheherazade and Cleopatra lack wider historical context, blending elements of fact and myth (many scholars discount the theory that Cleopatra died by cobra bite, as Tarnowska claims). However, the book introduces readers to lesser-known women rulers, such as Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, and hits its stride with narratives of modern women, including architect Zaha Hadid, astronaut Anousheh Ansari, and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Its upbeat, empowering message assures readers that “achieving our goals might be hard sometimes, but that’s why we need positive role models to guide us.” The book includes a single uncontextualized historical map of the region. Ages 9–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/01/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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