Book review: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, by Pénélope Bagieu, translated by Montana Kane

Bagieu, Pénélope. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. Trans. by Montana Kane. First Second, 2018. $17.99. 296p. ISBN 978-1-62672-869-0. Ages 13+. P8Q10

These short graphic biographies about 30 spirited females from many places and times begin with a “portrait,” followed by nine cartoon panels on each page and finished off with a grand two-page spread collaging their achievements. The lack of chronological order keeps the reader wondering about the next entry, as does the shifts in geographical locations. Some of the choices were overshadowed by historical information about males such as Lozen, a Chiricahua warrior whose brother Victorio was more recognized as an Apache chief. Some of my favorites whose drive led them to overcome adversity—i.e., Temple Grandin, Peggy Guggenheim, and Annette Kellerman—are introduced to younger readers through Bagieu’s book.

Verdict: Quirky colorful drawings and playful comedic comments highlight the politics, love, and sometimes sensuous joy of these women. Diverse choices of subjects, including some lesser celebrated women, help make this book a delight. The energy of the book may lead readers to look into more background on them, and Bagieu has also listed “Thirty More Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World.” Parts of the book were originally published on Bagieu’s blog, “Culottees” about “audacious women” who decide to take charge of their own destiny.

March 2018 review by Nel Ward.

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