March marks the 17th celebration of National Women's History Month, a time of commemoration officially designated by Congress in 1987. In honor of the occasion, BookPage has chosen a trio of new titles that showcase the lives of three legendary ladies who despite tremendous odds made their own special kind of history. The volumes spotlighted below reveal a diverse group of women whose one-of-a-kind achievements serve to inspire us all.
A literary legendPrairie Girl: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson is a touching tribute to a national icon and a wonderful introduction to one of America's most beloved writers. Anderson, a Wilder historian who has produced a number of adult books about the author, now offers a capsule biography of the famous, feisty little girl who grew up to be an accomplished artist. From life in the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the years in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, Anderson covers all the high points in Wilder's life, providing background on the experiences that inspired her work, as well as events she never wrote about. Prairie Girl also takes readers beyond the Little House books, offering information about the author's later years with husband Almanzo and daughter Rose. Written with a simplicity and charm reminiscent of Wilder's own prose, the book is just right for young readers. Renee Graef's precisely detailed, expressive illustrations add charm and appeal to a book that's sure to send students in search of the famous Little House series. Everybody loves Grandma Grandma Moses (Holiday House, $16.95, 32 pages, ISBN 0823415384, ages 4-8) is a charming picture book-biography illustrated in a colorful, rustic style similar to that of its subject. Author Alexandra Wallner, who has written biographies about other famous ladies, including Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams and Beatrix Potter, here offers an accessible, engaging introduction to one of America's most treasured painters. Born Anna Mary Robertson in 1860 on a farm in New York, Moses grew up in a hard-working environment, but living in the country gave her an appreciation for nature that would later influence her work. A wife and mother who raised five children, she was 67 years old when she first seriously tried her hand at painting, and her homespun pictures have since been exhibited in galleries around the world. Wallner, who also did the illustrations for Grandma Moses, has produced a perfect read-aloud book. This is an endearing little volume that will teach youngsters about rural life during the 1800s and introduce them to the work of a remarkably innovative artist.
Throwing like a girl For the athletically inclined, Mighty Jackie, The Strike-Out Queen (Simon &and Schuster, $16.95, 32 pages, ISBN 0689863292, ages 5-8), by Marissa Moss, is the spirited story of an unlikely sports legend. Tennessee native Jackie Mitchell was a baseball nut as a kid, and she grew up perfecting her pitch even though girls weren't supposed to play the game. She went on to become a member of a small team called the Chattanooga Lookouts and to make baseball history. On April 2, 1931, at the age of 17, Jackie pitched an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. Far from intimidated by her opponents, when she took to the mound, Jackie struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig quite an accomplishment for a young pitcher! Marissa Moss, author of the popular Amelia's Notebook series, brings this slice of baseball history to vivid life with her energetic text. Capturing the essence of both the era and the game, the book's golden-hued paintings, contributed by award-winning illustrator C.F. Payne, make this an extra-special read for sports fans of all ages.