REVIEW: Amazing Australian Women – Twelve Women Who Shaped History by Pamela Freeman & Illustrated by Sophie Beer

Published: 28th August 2018

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $26.99

5/5 Stars

Meet twelve amazing Australian women who have changed the world, in small ways and large.

Some of them are world famous, like Annette Kellerman and Nellie Melba.

Some of them are famous in Australia, like Mary Reibey and Edith Cowan.

All of them deserve to be famous and admired.

These women are the warriors who paved the way for the artists, business owners, scientists, singers, politicians, actors, sports champions, adventurers, activists and innovators of Australia today.

The featured women are:
Mary Reibey, convict and businesswoman
Tarenore, Indigenous resistance fighter
Mary Lee, suffragist
Nellie Melba, opera singer
Edith Cowan, politician
Tilly Aston, teacher, writer and disability activist
Rose Quong, actress, lecturer and writer
Elizabeth Kenny, nurse and medical innovator
Annette Kellerman, swimmer and movie star
Lores Bonney, aviation pioneer
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, artist
Ruby Payne-Scott, scientist

After the runaway success of  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (GNSFRG) in 2016, the children’s market has been flooded with books attempting to stand up along side GNSFRG in terms of concept, format, content and deliverance.  I don’t think any of the offerings got anywhere half as close as GNSFRG until Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History (Amazing Australian Women for short) by Pamela Freeman and illustrated by Sophie Beer came along.

Obviously, being Australian I have a bit of bias towards this particular offering, and I do acknowledge that while GNSFRG was all inclusive world wide phenomenon because it included women from all backgrounds (colour, race, nationality and all walks of life), and Amazing Australian Women: is limited to twelve specific Australian women, thus making it a more niche title. It’s this niche market that makes this particular book all the more special however compared to those that have come before it, as it speaks particularly to Australia’s history and the women who helped shaped society as we know it today. I’ve also found it to include less of the author’s bias, and be more inclusive than most of the titles attempting to emulate GNSFRG success from all over the world. I digress however …

Right from the introduction, Freeman has done an outstanding job of acknowledging and shaping the readers expectations when it comes to Amazing Australian Women. Her tone is one of awe and fascination, but it also balanced and lacks a lot of the bias I was expecting the book to contain.

Some of them are famous around the world, such as Annette Kellerman and Nellie Melba.

Some of them are famous in Australia, such as Mary Reibey and Edith Cowan.

And all of them DESERVE too be famous, and admired.

Amazing Australian Women features a map early on in the book illustrating where these twelve Australian women have hailed from. There is at least one women from every state and territory, making sure that those featured within the book are a true representation of the whole of Australia, not only due to their contributions and backgrounds, but by locale as well.

Amazing Australian Women‘s set up is clear, concise and easy to navigate. Each personality chosen is given a double page spread, featuring one full page portrait illustration, and one page of text telling their story. The images are bold, creative and dare the reader to look more closely. The text, is simple and to the point. It’s factual, but entertaining,  showcasing Freeman’s art at it’s best.

Although it pains me to admit as much, I didn’t know about some of these women and their contributions, and I’d never thought to even question why and how a woman came to be on our $20 note. Having studied a LOT of history at school, and then again at University, I thought I had a pretty decent grasp on Australian history, only to have this book show exactly how much was missing from the pages of history text books, and academic courses.

While the insights gained within the picture book are enough on their own as a taster, and text in their own right, Freeman has included a glossary, and mini biography with further reading and links should one be interested to look into them more. I found these resources invaluable and was delighted by her forethought and dedication to the project.

Historically women and their contributions from society have been forgotten or written from the pages of text books and history itself; in this latest addition from Pamela Freeman and illustrated by Sophie Beer, the dynamic duo have set about setting some of the records straight. Their stories will equally surprise, validate and inspire the reader long after the turning of the final page.  I highly recommend Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Women Who Shaped History to anyone interested in learning more.

To purchase a copy of Amazing Australian Women, visit the following online retailers:

Hachette Australia | Booktopia | Amazon USA | Amazon AUS | Angus & Robertson | Dymocks | QBD | Readings |

To learn more about Pamela Freeman, visit the following social media sites:

Author Website | Pamela Freeman.com | Facebook | Hachette Australia | Goodreads |

To learn more about Sophie Beer, visit the following social media sites:

Sophie Beer .com | Instagram | Twiiter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

 

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