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Biography for Beginners:
Women Who Made a Difference

School Library Journal

HARRIS, Laurie Lanzen, ed. Biography for Beginners: Women Who Made a Difference. 462p. maps. photos. reprods. chron. glossary. index. CIP. Favorable Impressions. 2011. PLB $49. ISBN 978-1-937360-43-2. LC 2011017258.

Gr 2-5–The 60 women profiled here are diverse in their backgrounds, the time in which they lived, and their nationalities. They have made outstanding contributions to politics (Hatshepsut, Margaret Thatcher); social reform and human rights (Sojourner Truth, Aung San Suu Kyi); science, medicine, and innovation (Marie Curie, Mae Jemison); literature, art, and music (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Maya Lin), or athletics (Babe Zaharias Didrikson, Jackie Joyner Kersee). The clearly written, alphabetically arranged entries, which feature boldfaced headings and a large type for ease of reading, include information on the woman’s childhood, education, early interests, marriage and family, career, and legacy. Each entry includes reproductions of portraits and photos and some also feature first-person quotations. The pieces are followed by recommendations for online further-reading; the Web sites are well-chosen and credible. Helpful for school reports.–Rebecca Sheridan, Easttown Library & Information Center, Berwyn, PA

November 1, 2011

Biography for Beginners: Women Who Made a Difference.

Harris, Laurie Lanzen (Editor) May 2011. 461 p. Favorable Impressions, hardcover, $49.00. (9781931360432). 920.72.

This collection of 60 biographies of women who made an impact in their fields, often as the first of their gender to do so, is geared to elementary school children. Although women from many time periods and cultures are included, three-fourths of the biographies are of Americans. Each 6 to 10 page article is accompanied by well-chosen illustrations of the women. For those from the last century and a half, these often include a portrait to begin the article as well as pictures from childhood and from the field. The article on Jane Goodall, for example, includes a picture her as a toddler with a toy chimpanzee followed by photos of her observing real apes in Africa.

The articles themselves are written at the appropriate level for early- to middle-grade students and divided into sections that use bold type for the first few words to catch the reader’s eye. The use of quotes from the subjects and others enhance the biographies and make them more personal. The articles do not shy away from controversies in each woman’s life, and the authors do a good job of summing up the issues in a way younger readers can understand. A glossary, brief biographies of a dozen other women, a timeline, and an index follow the main part of the book. There are some punctuation errors, and Maya Lin is referred to as Mia in one case. A number of the websites listed after each biography do not work, often because of a transcription error. Sites that could be found often were written for older audiences. However, the biographies themselves serve as solid resources for young researchers.— Elaine Lindstrom

Library Media Connection

Biography for Beginners: Women Who Made a Difference

2011. 400pp. $49 hc. Favorable Impressions.
9781-931360-43-2. Grades 3–6

This new volume consists of 60 thorough, readable biographies of women from ancient times (Cleopatra) to the present (Hilary Rodham Clinton). Beginning with a photograph and dates, and ending with a paragraph on the subject’s legacy and websites for further inquiry, these brief biographies are quite detailed. It was an enjoyable read for this history major.—Betsy Russell, Media Specialist, Bradley Elementary School, Columbia, SC


Sample Entry Who's Included Reviews