cover image Seven Brave Women

Seven Brave Women

Betsy Hearne. Greenwillow Books, $15.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14502-6

Noting that ""in the old days, history books marked time by the wars that men fought,"" Hearne (Eliza's Dog) tells stories of seven women in her family who ""did great things"" without fighting in the eight wars that frame their lives. This is a smartly crafted collection of page-long personal tales that shake up common notions of what makes a life worthwhile or even heroic. War defines the era of Hearne's stories, but only incidentally: ""Helen lived during World War I, but she did not fight in it. My great-grandmother was brave enough to go to medical school when it was hard for women to become doctors."" (This Helen later founded a women's hospital in India). The other women's careers are less dramatic but no less noteworthy. The vividly detailed stories stretch from the Revolutionary War to the present, and are depicted with equal unconventionality by first-time illustrator Andersen's folkish, lyrical, uncommonly energetic oil paintings. Her imaginative compositions show each woman with people or mementos, including some that float in the background; they also feature a pink ribbon that links each scene to the next. The result is a book that is all the more magical for being rooted in history, an exhilarating reminder that ""there are a million ways to be brave."" Ages 5-up. (Aug.)