Similar to 2018’s Femme Magnifique curated by Shelley Bond and published by IDW/Black Crown, this new graphic novel, Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices And Changed The World, is a celebration of females across time who have stood up and stood out to and raised themselves to become true trailblazers and game-changers. Individuals who, through their actions, changed history and left their mark on the world’s evolution. The fact that there is still a need for another book focusing on women from history who you may not of heard of tells you that, as a society, we still have a long way to go yet in redressing the balance, but we’re getting there.
And so I look at this book not only as a sumptuous collection of comic strips to entertain and engage with young readers – male or female – but as a great reference book and educational tool too. A book that, as previously mentioned when announcing this new book, should be well at home in any library or school across the country. I’m sure there will be many proactive educators and librarians out there who may even be reading this now. As a teacher myself, I’ll certainly be passing on the information to my own school librarian.
Furthermore, all the strips are created by female/non-binary cartoonists too, making this a double whammy for any young girls reading these tales of heroism and personal struggles to overcome adversity. Firstly, girls reading this book can be inspired by the stories and then be further inspired by the creators producing them. Who knows, reading this tome could springboard the dreams and aspirations of the next Shelly Bond, Gail Simone or Amanda Conner. Indeed, when I take in the beautifully, non-fussy layout of each multipage strip, I was immediately taken by their design. Simple, straight forward and easy to read, they could easily double up as a wonderful educational wall display too. I’m sure that wasn’t the main intention driving the laying out of each strip – rather, I dare say, more the need to produce strips that young readers could easily access and read – but it’s a great added further appeal too.
There will be entries you may be all too familiar with such as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and author and poet, Maya Angelou, but your kids may not. Although, there are entrants that you will be less aware of, and that’s the whole point of this book. Together, parents and children can share this book. A perfect bedtime book to dip into with 25 strips in a variety of vivid, illustrative strips that give this whole book an aesthetic about it all that wouldn’t find itself out of place on the children’s bookshelves of any book shop. A far cry form the more machismo, hyperbolic artwork in mainstream comics today.
I particularly like the way these strips have been collected together under various subheadings too. So, we get entries on creative females, such as the aforementioned Frida Kahlo (by Naomi Franquiz) and chef Julia Child (by Lucy Knisley). I do like a well organised book.
I daresay you’ll have your favourites. For me it has to be the entry about Frankenstein author, Mary Shelly, with a distinctive artistic style that looks like detailed pen and ink doodles from a student’s notepad courtesy of Emil Ferris. But, what will yours be?
It’s a book you’ll treasure and one you will return to time and again too. A book beautifully and effectively designed for young readers, but a book that can be shared with parents, carers and loved ones too. Well worth considering picking up for that young rebellious soul in your life.
Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World is out February 4, 2020 from Knopf Books for Young Readers