Fantastically great women scientists and their stories by Kate Pankhurst

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Kate Pankhurst, the author of the Fantastically Great Women picture book series, has now written a new series for older readers in a novel format. This first book is a compelling read and shares stories of women who have achieved amazing things in Science from space travel to volcanoes to botany. These women all fought against the odds in a white male-dominated world yet through perseverance and resilience they have been able to leave their mark and become role models for future generations. The story of Mae Jemison, the first Black American woman in space, is one of absolute dedication, racism and persistence.  Her brilliant mind and obvious talent in many areas led her to achieve so much. As a young child she was curious about everything which led her to become a medical doctor, an astronaut and finally she started a company that would find ways that science and technology could support ordinary people. The story of Janaki Ammal who was born in 1897 and became a botanist is one of a strong Indian woman overcoming traditional expectations to achieve quite impressive things. During her life journey she was discriminated against, one for being a woman, also from being from the ‘untouchable’ class in India as well as having to travel to other countries at times to fulfil her yearn for research and learning.

As well as providing insightful information about the women discussed in the book, the author has also been able to provide an historical perspective of social conditions of the time. Throughout this book there are black and white graphic-style images, speech bubbles, maps, changes in text style, darkness and size all which add to the engagement for the reader.

This very worthwhile read would be a wonderful addition to any home, classroom, school or public library. 

Themes: Women, Scientists, History, Biography.

Kathryn Beilby