cover image Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

Pénélope Bagieu, trans. from the French by Montana Kane. First Second, $17.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-62672-869-1

Story collections about famous women often include figures like Joan of Arc and Florence Nightingale. Bagieu (California Dreamin’) goes further afield, creating short graphic biographies about inspiring women from many unexpected times and places, such as Las Mariposas, sisters from the Dominican Republic who worked to overthrow dictator Rafael Trujillo; Katia Krafft, who fought to be recognized as a volcanologist; and Leyah Gbowee, an organizer whose part in ending the civil war in Liberia won her the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. (“How about a drink?” Liberian negotiators say to Gbowee. “I don’t drink with murderers,” she snaps.) Bagieu’s writing is sly and understated, and her panels combine impish comedy with unexpected moments of sensuousness. The women in these biographies pursue political freedom, love, artistic fulfillment, and—sometimes—the joy of their own bodies: Peggy Guggenheim mourns the death of her lover John Holms “on the shoulders of (lots of) new lovers.” Any one of these stories would make a rousing picture book biography; 29 of them in one volume produces a work whose energy and wit will spur readers to get going and change the world. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)