Wonder Women by Sam Maggs was sent to me by the Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.
Wonder Women tells the story of women who have somehow slipped through the net in terms of public recognition for their work in key areas that we now know as STEM subjects. Each chapter in the book looks at a handful of women who have been pioneers in science, medicine, inventing, espionage, adventuring and exploring and technology. The book tells stories of women from countries all over the world, from all walks of life and from all eras of history.
Each woman gets a few pages dedicated to her story and at the end of each chapter are a few more pages of paragraphs devoted to women the reader may want to go on and study further who share similar stories, backgrounds etc. There is also an interview with a modern woman working in the subject/technology the chapter covers. The back of the book provides a good bibliography and list of resources for readers who want to discover more, as well as websites and resources should they want to actually emulate the women in the book.
On the whole I think this is a great book. The stories are interesting and the women’s lives are without exception fascinating. They share many traits, usually that of having to work against incredible odds to do amazing things, and then having their work stolen by men or dismissed altogether. It’s nice to see them being properly credited for what they did and what their work still continues to give to the world today.
The only thing I struggled with is the style of the writing which is deliberately quirky and aimed squarely at the teenage girl market. It really grated for me, but that’s probably because I’m 44 and grumpy. I don’t think it really needed quirkiness and their stories are gripping enough not to need spicing up. The book is, despite dealing with women from all around the world, also firmly American in its language. I particularly struggled with the term ‘gals’, but that’s just me. I think the book, despite my own reservations, will be a fantastic resource for school libraries. I’d recommend secondary schools in particular as it does talk about lesbianism and trans gender issues in a way that might require some explanation in primary schools, although I personally wouldn’t hesitate to give it to younger readers.