When I stumbled upon this book at Barnes & Noble, I instantly fell in love. I knew not only did I have to review it but that I needed to purchase my own copy of the book. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World is a compilation of poems by historian and professor Susan Hood which tell the stories of 14 world-changing women. Each biographical poem is written in a different style of poetry and conveys relevant information about the woman’s life in a fun yet accessible way. One huge success of this book is its choice of women to feature as it goes beyond the handful of household names normally highlighted in children’s literature about strong women. Hood artfully includes women of all races, national-orgins, ages, time periods, and occupations, a good number of which I hadn’t even heard of. From Pura Belpre to Molly Williams to Annette Kellerman, my eyes were opened to the contributions of so many strong women about which I had never heard.
Hood supplements her poems with actual quotes from the women, short write ups on their lives, as well as an index with further resources for more in-depth research. She also begins the book with a timeline to help the reader visualize how all the women fit into history together. These extra elements make this book perfect for an elementary school teacher to use as an introduction to a women-centered history research project. I can imagine students each selection one of the women, or one not highlighted in the book, and diving deep into their life’s work. Finally, perhaps my favorite part of this book is its illustrations. Each spread of pages, which highlights a different women, is done by a different illustrators. Each of the illustrators are themselves women from different walks of life. From the collage work by Melissa Sweet on the page about Frances Moore Lappe to the simple, bold drawings of Lisa Brown on the page about Nellie Bly, each illustrator brings new excitement to the book. All the illustrators are showcased on the front cover of the book under the jacket in a beautiful display.
This book truly is one about women, by women and for women. The result is a beautiful collection of diverse stories and illustrations which show that people, specifically women, of all identities are capable of changing the world. For any parent striving to raise a strong, independent, brave daughter, this book is a must have!