Women Daredevils

Overview

Annie Edson Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Mabel Stark wrestled with tigers. Sonora Webster Carver plummeted forty feet on horseback into a tank of water. These and the eleven other women profiled in this book performed between 1880 and 1929, when females were expected to stay home and raise families, not entertain crowds with acts of derring-do. Their bravado, equal to that of any male thrill-seeker, made them inspiring at a time when women were testing the waters of equality and freedom. Julie ...

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Overview

Annie Edson Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Mabel Stark wrestled with tigers. Sonora Webster Carver plummeted forty feet on horseback into a tank of water. These and the eleven other women profiled in this book performed between 1880 and 1929, when females were expected to stay home and raise families, not entertain crowds with acts of derring-do. Their bravado, equal to that of any male thrill-seeker, made them inspiring at a time when women were testing the waters of equality and freedom. Julie Cummins’s conversational text and Cheryl Harness’s posterlike illustrations bring a colorful era in history to life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Cummins tells the stories of . . . female daredevils with panache, sensitive to their roles as the ‘extreme sport’ reality-show stars of the day. Harness’s action-packed illustrations show each female daredevil performing in period costume and setting. Kudos for bringing to light this hidden slice of female history.”—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly

The divas of derring-do featured in this roster of late-19th- and early-20th-century female boundary-breakers and record-setters will probably be unknown to readers, but their feats will awe even the X Games crowd. Cummins (Tomboy of the Air) profiles 14 women made famous by their dangerous stunts from the late 1800s through the Roaring Twenties. From May Wirth (hailed as the world's greatest bareback rider for her ability to perform back flips atop a galloping horse) to Zazel ("Human Cannonball in Pink Tights"), each legendary lady receives two double spreads bordered in racy red (a few women who undertook similar exploits share a layout, like wing walkers Gladys Roy and Gladys Ingle). Cummins embeds her animated prose with tidbits that rank high on the wow meter, e.g., the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was 63, not 43 as she claimed at the time-and she could not swim. A full-page illustration accompanies each chapter and depicts the astonishing stunts, e.g., Sonora Carver diving into a small pool from 40 feet up while on horseback (she inspired the film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken); vignettes and other smaller art further enliven the text. A concluding chronology sets these women's accomplishments within the context of other, more commonly acknowledged female firsts and the path toward equal rights. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This is one fun and exciting book! The author highlights 14 women who were the first women daredevils in a number of areas between 1880 and 1929. From "human cannonball" Zazel to bicycle riders Mlle. D'Zizi and Gertrude Breton—forerunners of Evil Knieval and his motorcycling leaps over buses—each of the women is highlighted as to her "extreme sport" and the specifics of that challenge as well as to the personal challenges she faced in life. Detailed pen and pencil drawings provide younger readers with fabulous poster-like visuals of both the woman and her particular circus act or daring escapade. Cultural tidbits, such as the fact that American President Woodrow Wilson came to the circus to specifically watch May Wirth, "The World's Greatest Bareback Rider," and the news that parachutist Georgie Broadwick tested an aerial life preserver for the Aviation Bureau of the U.S. Navy, are fun to read. Women wing walkers, the first woman to ride down Niagara Falls in a barrel, the first woman wild animal trainer, and the girl with the high-diving horse help to round out this fascinating book. A must-have for any library or any household with adventurous young women in it! Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5
This fascinating book is likely to capture readers' imaginations. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's quote, "Well-behaved women rarely make history," is invoked by the author in her introduction and perfectly sums up the tone of this romp through women's history. Ten brief biographies, covering 14 different individuals, are included. The events took place around the turn of the 20th century or shortly after; some of the women are well known, while others are more obscure. For instance, kids might be familiar with Sonora Webster Brown, thanks to the Disney film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken . However, Mademoiselle D'Zizi, who jumped over six elephants on a bike in 1899, may be a new name to them. The whimsical, full-color illustrations have a classic, old-time feel, which suits the subject matter well. Cummins describes the daredevil acts so well that children will feel as if they've watched archival films of them. The time line is exceptional because it lists not only the stunts of each woman in the book, but also other amazing accomplishments by women of the day, such as Genevra Mudge, the first woman to drive a car in America, in 1898. The source notes are thorough and interesting in and of themselves. Put this book on display-the cover illustration of Zazel being shot from a cannon will dare browsers to take a peek inside.
—Laura LutzCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525479482
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 1/24/2008
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,469,887
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: NC1140L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.62 (w) x 10.12 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Cummins is the author of several books, including Tomboy of the Air: Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott. She lives in Canandaigua, New York.

Cheryl Harness is the author and illustrator of more than twenty popular books about history.

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