Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

I am not an impulse buyer. I’m far too worrisome a person to risk not researching every little thing I buy for at least a week to avoid the crushing regret and unbearable hassle of having to – god forbid – return something. But when DanMan saw a video of Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo talking about their children’s book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, it took us about 10 seconds to decide to buy it.

Fully titled ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women’, the book is an enchantingly put together collection of stories about incredible and inspiring women from the real world, from Michelle Obama to Hypatia. Each woman’s story is told as a short reinvented fairy tale, and every tale is accompanied by an illustration by a different female artist, all of which are equally beautiful and thoughtful.

Aside from the stunning way this gem of a book is bound and presented, my favourite thing about it is the women the authors have chosen to write about, and of course the stories themselves. The women adorning each page are an incredibly diverse (refreshingly so) bunch from throughout history, ranging all the way from ancient Japan to the modern day. There are qweens (in both a literal and figurative sense!) of all races and cultures in equal measure, and their achievements and occupations cover every discipline you can think of; there are of course doctors and monarchs, politicians and scholars, but there are also trailblazing musicians, sportswomen, fashion icons, activists, mothers, wives and even pirates!

This is truly a book that showcases the incredible impact of women throughout history without a trace of prejudice or bias; some of those included are controversial figures, but their stories are written to show their achievements whilst acknowledging that they may have been liked and disliked in equal measure for some of their choices. For me, reading Margaret Thatcher’s story brought home how important it is that liberation of all kinds be for everyone – do I agree with everything Thatcher said, or did? Hells no. Am I grateful that she had the right and the opportunity to say and do those things? Hells to the goddamn yes I am.

This is a book every girl (and, preferably, boy!), young or old, should have on their bookshelf. We’re going to give it to DanMan’s two little cousins because, at a time in which women are being killed for their gender in some parts of the world and there’s still an outcry about a female Dr Who in others, women and girls still need be told that they have the capability and potential to be whatever and whomever they want to be. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.