I picked up No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure at TCAF from the KidsCan Press Table. It is exactly what one would expect and hope from a book with such an epic title. ^_^
The books tells the tales of 7 women who dressed (and mostly, who passed) as men in their lifetimes. From well-known names as Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut and the Chinese Warrior Mu Lan to 19th century doctor James Barry and escaped slave Ellen Craft. Each story is told simply by Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson. No judgements are made, no lessons taught (except the obvious – if women are allowed opportunity, they can excel).
This book is suitable for a young audience, I’d probably go as low as 8 or 9 depending on the child.* (War, death and slavery are topics surfaced in the telling of these tales.) Of course, you may end up in long conversations about human society, gender norms and privilege as well. ^_^
Dawson’s art is neat with a simple chiaroscuro aesthetic, Hughes’ prose is straightforward without much embellishment; narration sets the scene and dialogue allows the characters to participate in their own stories.
Art – 7 – Easy to follow, not “sophisticated” but it doesn’t need to be
Story – 9 Inspiring and depressing at once
Characters – 10 Inspiring, full stop
Overall – 9
An educational and entertaining book about some well-known and lesser-known hidden women’s stories – totally worth taking a look at.
*At 8, I had read Huckleberry Finn and at 9, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Nothing in this book would have shocked me, honestly, by 8.