Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, 212pp, RL 3
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an amazing book with an equally amazing story of how it came to be. In 2011, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo created Timbuktu Magazine, the first iPad magazine for children. From there, they went on to create twelve mobile app, publish six books for kids in three languages and built a toolkit that allows underserved communities to design and build play spaces in collaboration with major charities. Of these experiences, Cavallo and Favilli write,
our entrepreneurial journey made us understand how important it is for girls to grow up surrounded by female role models. It helps to be more confident and set bigger goals. We realized that 95% of the books and TV shows we grew up with lacked girls in prominent positions. We did some research and discovered that this didn't change much over the past 20 years. so we decided to do something about it.
Wanting to make a book their way and on their own terms, Favilli and Cavallo started an historic Kickstarter campaign that was the most funded original book to be crowdfunded, with over 20,000 backers and more than $1,000,000 raised! The names of special contributors take up five pages at the end of the book - how cool is that? It took me a year to finally purchase Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, mostly because of the cover price, which $35.00. Really, this is a very reasonable price for a hardcover book with color illustrations on every page - and a red ribbon bookmark. And, I admire the fact that online booksellers are not offering Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls at a discount, like almost every other book they sell. However, once I learned the story behind the book and held it in my hands - it is a truly beautifully designed book with magnificent illustrations by 60 women artists from all over the world - I knew that it was worth every penny.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women is diverse in its choice of subjects, which are appear alphabetically by first name, their professions listed after. There are mathematicians, super models, astrophysicists and inventors. There are writers, artists, directors, politicians, activists and surgeons. And there are weightlifters, boxers, tattoo artists rock stars, spies, pharaohs and rappers. There are even a few double threats, like Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, president and scientist from Mauritius (below, left), Hypatia, mathematician and philosopher from Ancient Greece, Miriam Makeba, activist and singer from South Africa, Maria Montessori, physician and educator from Italy and Cora Coralina, poet and baker from Brazil. I find Manal Al-Sharif and her story especially inspirational.
Women from over 40 different countries are represented here, with more than 30 women from the United States like Serena and Venus Williams, Julia Child, Michelle Obama, Mae C. Jemison, trombonist Melba Liston and director Brenda Chapman. Working at Disney studios, Chapman discovered she was one of the very few women animators there. This led Chapman to realize why "princesses in their films were so helpless. They had all been created by men." Promising herself she would create a new kind of princess, strong and independent, she went on to write and direct Brave, the first Pixar film with a female protagonist AND the first Pixar film directed by a woman. Brave also won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best animated feature film in 2013. Another special entry from the United States is Coy Mathis (above, right) who, as a transgender six-year-old, went to court to enable people in Colorado to use bathrooms that match their gender identity in 2013.
Each woman gets a one page biography along with a fantastic illustration. As I read Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, I found myself researching almost every entry, fascinated by woman after woman. I can only wonder what my life would be like today if I had known that there were so many historical and contemporary women doing incredible things and making phenomenal contributions. I am grateful to Cavallo and Favilli that girls today will be able to see what they can be!