March 14


A Dozen New Picture Book Biographies to Celebrate Women’s History Month by Sarah Green and Kate Hannigan

Stories of courage in the face of adversity are alway irresistible. As humans, we need to hear about happy endings—that someone just like us can face down a dragon and ultimately come out victorious. What’s easy to love about nonfiction is discovering a good beat-the-odds story and being able to say, “This actually happened!” Women’s History Month is the perfect time to discover real-life heroines and learn more about how they kicked down doors, upended societal expectations, and slayed a few dragons along the way.

Together as an author and an illustrator, we’re tag-teaming to offer up some of our favorite Women’s History Month titles, including our own brand-new collaboration, hitting bookshelves today. Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine: Josephine Cochrane’s Bright Invention Makes a Splash (Calkins Creek/Astra) looks at the life of a little-known female inventor.

What makes Josephine’s story especially appealing—besides our daily gratitude for her giving the world the dishwashing machine—is that she also stands out as an example of female entrepreneurship. After being told to move over and let a man take her invention to market, she refused. “I am so constituted that I cannot let go of the invention. I want to run the thing myself.” And she did, expanding her reach, improving her product, and growing her company—an original #bossgirl.

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of Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine!

Here are our favorite new and recent Women’s History Month picture book biographies we hope you’ll explore and enjoy:

The Girl Who Built an Ocean: An Artist, an Argonaut, and the True Story of the World’s First Aquarium by Jess Keating and illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter. It really doesn’t get better than this story of the life of Jeanne Villepreux-Power. A Parisian dressmaker with a love for the ocean invents the world’s first aquarium at a time when women in STEM was unheard of. Magnifique!

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers written by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina Al-Hathloul, and illustrated by Rebecca Green. A story based on the childhood of Loujain Al-Hathoul, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Saudi human rights activist, and written partially by Loujain’s sister Lina, this vivid, beautiful picture book shows its readers a world powered by imagination, but grounded in real struggles.

Splash! Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes Waves of Change by Elisa Boxer and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddelley. Ethelda Bleibtrey survived polio and turned to swimming as a means to build up strength, but the pool also became the battleground in her fight for women’s rights and freedoms.

A Take-Charge Girl Blazes a Trail to Congress: The Story of Jeannette Rankin by Gretchen Woelfle and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon. A beautifully illustrated account of the first woman to serve in Congress and the battles she fought along the way to secure women’s right to vote as well as to become a lawmaker and improve the lives of women and children.

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein written by Lynn Fulton and illustrated by Felicita Sala. We all know the story of the famed monster Frankenstein, but how many of us know about the life of history’s first science-fiction author, Mary Shelley? In this spooky but rich tale, Fulton weaves us into the context for how Frankenstein came to be, while Sala’s illustrations sweep us from page to page in whimsically moody but gorgeous and delightful ways. A must read for any little monster.

Ablaze With Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas written by Jeanne Walker Harvery and illustrated by Loveis Wise. A celebration of art and color, this picture book tracks the life of Alma Thomas, the first African American woman to have a solo show in the Whitney Museum and have work in the White House permanent collection—and explores the journey of how art can change a life. Wise’s illustrations perfectly capture the spirit of Thomas’s paintings, leaping off the page and sure to inspire any young artists.

A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino. Asawa came from a farm family, but her style was shaped by her time studying with avant-garde artists and thinkers like Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Told through D’Aquino’s lush and engaging collage illustrations, this book will delight burgeoning young artists—and don’t miss the page of teaching tools.

Milloo’s Mind: The Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education is illustrated by Hoda Hadadi and written by Reem Faruqi—who also happens to be Maryam’s granddaughter. This book explores education and gender equality as it looks at the woman who opened classrooms to girls across Pakistan at a time when they were locked out.

Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis written by Melvina Noe and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera is a celebration of Southern food as a means to connect us, whether it’s with family, friends, or the greater society beyond our kitchens. With drool-worthy illustrations, the pages share the life of African American culinary legend Edna Lewis. Publishing next month.

Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes ‘the French Chef,’ written by Alex Prud’homme and illustrated by Sarah Green. Says Kate: “I’d already fallen in love with Sarah’s illustration style with Barb Rosenstock’s Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote,so this just solidified my opinion. Born Hungry is both fascinating and a feast for the eyes!”

Alice Waters Cooks Up a Food Revolution written by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Any burgeoning foodie should know the tale of the pioneer of the farm-to-table movement Alice Waters. Stanley takes us through Waters’ childhood and how her love for fresh food found footing in her family garden, while Hartland’s lively, expressive illustrations capture the joy of food and good ingredients.

Sarah Green is a San Francisco-born illustrator, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. She has illustrated over a dozen picture books, including the upcoming Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine (written by Kate!) and loves books that focus shining light on the stories often untold by history. See more at


Kate Hannigan writes nonfiction and fiction, including Nellie Vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists’ Breakneck Race around the World, which was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s “Top Ten Children’s Books of 2022,” and the three-book historical fantasy series Cape, Mask, and Boots (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin) that weaves in the stories of real-life women heroes of WWII. Visit her online at