Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought)

Author:  Kathleen Krull
Illustrator:  Kathryn Hewitt
Published:  2000
 Lives of Extraordinary Women is about the lives of women in history and includes information on the good, the bad, and the ugly.  All of the stories are not glamorous and don't always make the person seem amazing, but they are really interesting.  The pictures in the book are water color and seem to be caricatures of the women.  They are colorful and detailed with very large-headed women. 

Each woman discussed in the book has her own chapter.  The women are:  Cleopatra, Eleanor of Aquitane, Joan of Arc, Isabella I, Elizabeth I, Nzingha, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Victoria, Harriet Tubman Tz'u-hs, Gertrude Bell, Jeanette Fankin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Glda meir, Indira Gandhi, Eva Peron, Wilma Mankiller, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Rigoberta Menchu.  I liked that these aren't women that we might all be familiar with so we are going to learn.  The stories are well written and the pictures are so detailed that reading more and learning was quite easy.

I read about women who I thought I knew about.  I realized that my knowledge is very superficial of many of these women.  I did not know that Cleopatra had been married to her 10 year old brother.  The family wanted to keep the royalty in the family.  The story of Cleopatra implies that she killed her brother.  Cleopatra was her father's favorite and was well educated.  She knew 8 languages!

I didn't realize that Franklin Roosevelt had an affair with Eleanor's secretary!  I'm not sure how much of that a 3rd grade child needs to know, but I know I was surprised! Mrs. Roosevelt's daily routines were twice as long as her husband's and she had a great impact on his presidency.  Mrs. Roosevelt was both loved and hated for her power in the government.  It sounds like today actually, strong women are harshly judged and treated unkindly for being in positions of power.

I did not know that Eva Peron was loved by the poor.  I had thought that she was hated for her extravagance.  It turns out that she helped bathe lice-ridden children, helped people with cash, and jobs.  She focused so much on others that she did not realize that she herself was sick.  She died of cancer at the age of 33.

The book includes a section named, "For Further Reading."  It includes the author's most useful resources and is a good reference for additional reading in the future.

Check this book out from the library.
Discussion and Activity Guides
Author's Facebook Page

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