Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is 2017’s first surprise success for the children’s book industry in the UK. It began as a Kickstarter in the US from its creators Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo last year, grew via word of mouth and social media, became a massive independent publishing success in the US, and was picked up by Penguin imprint Particular Books for the UK. Through this its become wildly popular with parents, teachers and children (including my own daughter Alice, who after I tell her about this feature might finally get a handle on what Daddy does for a living).
Much of its success was due to its concept. The book features the real-life stories of 100 inspiring women from Elizabeth I to Malala – leaders, politicians, musicians, scientists, dancers, lawyers and more (OK, 99 and Margaret Thatcher – but as Elena and Francesca are Italy-born and US-based we’ll let them off for not knowing why many British parents wouldn’t want their children to see the ‘Milk Snatcher’ as a role model, despite her symbolic importance as the first female Prime Minister of the UK).
Each story is told in the manner, tone and lilt of a fairytale – and using a vocabulary that’s accessible to children from ages four to 12 as children move from being read to doing it themselves. Occassional words and concepts need explanation from the an adult, but this encourages discussion and deepens understanding.
And each story is accompanied by a full-page illustration created by a female illustrator. While some will be familiar to you as a Digital Arts reader – we’ve featured the work and thoughts of Ana Galvin, Camilla Perkins, Lizzy Stewart and Malin Rosenqvist especially many times before – others will likely be new to you (and were to me).
Here four of the artists tell us how they feel about being involved in the project, the creative process behind their works and who their own female role models were.
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