Book Bites: Endearing and Emboldening Biographies

There’s been more than a smattering of children’s books released in the last few years embracing unsung heroes past and present. Life stories, particularly those of notable women, are especially popular not only with younger female audiences but also inquisitive young boys with a thirst for historical fact and interesting role models. Why are books that celebrate the past lives of extraordinary people so popular with our new generations? The answer is not easy to pinpoint however what is certain is that the right combination of art, fact, history and narrative verve can breathe spectacular new life into past achievements, revitalise history, and ensure tomorrow’s youngsters are more motivated than ever to pursue their own potential and dreams.

This collection of nonfiction, biographical titles that endear and embolden young readers adheres to the adage that…


Stand Up for the Future: A Celebration of Inspirational Young Australians
This is another title by the motivated team at Penguin Random House that supports past and present-day role models that both girls and boys can admire and learn from. Presented in the same eye-catching style as Shout Out to the Girls and High Five to the Boys, Inspirational Young Australians has a punchy contemporary feel that would be at home on any tween or tween’s bookshelf and is bristling with male and female wonders including: Ben Simmons, Bindi Irwin, Ellyse Perry, Nevo Zisin, Jessica Mauboy and Solli Raphael. Some are instantly recognisable; others are worth getting to know even if you are not familiar with their entreprenurial or humanitarian achievements.

The brief summary of each young Australian highlights their backgrounds, memorable achievements and hopes for the future. There are also inspiring introductions and stimulating questions to evoke even more interest and pro-active thought.

As with the previous titles, the premise of showing solidarity and support and recognition of someone rings loud and true through Stand Up. Energetically illustrated and sumptuously designed, these books form a colourful and informative collection that makes an ideal gift idea.

Title: Stand Up for the Future: A Celebration of Inspirational Young Australians
Author: Various
Illustrator: Various
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $29.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780143794394
For ages: 7+
Type: Non Fiction, Biography

Buy the Book: Booktopia

High Five to the Boys: A Celebration of Ace Australian Men
I love this one even more. This bold celebration of ace Australian men immediately captures your attention with bright sassy page designs and supremely readable excerpts about a remarkable selection of notable blokes. People from all walks of life and occupations share company and adulation in this collection: veterinarians, sportsmen, comedians, artists, inventors, war heroes, health advocates, wildlife warriors, and explorers. The list is impressive and comprehensive, and all illustrated by some of Australia’s most accomplished illustrators including Andrew Joyner, James Hart and Tohby Riddle. It’s hard not to keep page turning but you’ll also want to revisit these people whose life stories inspire and amaze. This book aces famous book collections for me.

Title: High Five to the Boys: A Celebration of Ace Australian Men
Author: Various
Illustrator: Various
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $29.99
Publication Date: July 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780143791782
For ages: 7+
Type: Non Fiction, Biography

Buy the Book: Booktopia, Readings

Little People, Big Dreams Various
This series is phenomenal. Beautifully bound hardbacks which would nest together attractively on any bookshelf make them ideal stocking stuffers for the avid collector. The number of outstanding people this series covers is as mind blowing as it is comprehensive. The premise is simple: each book features a famous person who achieved incredible things whether in the fields of art, humanities, science and the like, yet began as a child with a simple dream.

There are over 42 titles in the Big Dreams series with more popping up every day and suit those who prefer to take their time getting to know a person in more depth than from just a few lines. Each individual biography details the child’s birthplace, upbringing and initial ventures into the events that eventually led to their notoriety. Each is strikingly illustrated to accompany Vegara’s easy prose which reads like a storybook. Children as young as five and six will find these stories fascinating to listen to long before they are able to read them themselves. Each book ends with a timeline and real photos that pull the story together and retains interest and affection until the very last page turn. Share the life stories of renowned women such as: Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parker, and Jane Godall to name a handful. The boys are represented too with the likes of Rudolf Nureyev, Stephen Hawking and Muhammad Ali. Highly recommended. Start collecting now!

Title: Little People, Big Dreams series
Author: Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Illustrator: Various
Publisher: Quarto Group UK, $19.99
Publication Date: 2015 – 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: Various
For ages: 6+
Type: Non Fiction, Biography

Buy the Book: Boomerang Books

Her Story: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World
This collection of 50 of the world’s most rocking women really does shimmy and shimmer. Decorated with swaths of illuminous fluorescent orange and bold blues and greens, you’d be forgiven into believing this kind of distraction would make it impossible to enjoy these women’s remarkable stories, but you’d be mistaken. All the colourful detail juxtaposed with generous paragraphs of informative fact only serves to highlight how each of them ‘shook the world’. Each woman’s tale is accommodated in a specific category for example: Help & Heal, Think & Solve, Imagine & Create then broken down into a brief two page spread timeline of her life’s achievements.

These women braved fear, bigotry, danger and ignorance to rise above the challenges of their time and prove that if you have the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars…you can …change the world. Harriet Tubman. Truly inspirational, this book is a feast of feisty, a smorgasbord of dreams come true and a genuine joy to read.

Title: Her Story: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World
Author: Katherine Halligan
Illustrator: Sarah Wallace
Publisher: Nosy Crow, $35.00
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781788001380
For ages: 9 – 12
Type: Non Fiction, Biography

Buy the Book: Allen & Unwin, Boomerang Books

Athena: The Story of a Goddess
For those who value women emulating moxie, adventure and determination, Athena is your kind of hero. This substantial hardback picture book reads more like a groovy modern graphic novel as it ushers readers through Athena’s godly life from her extraordinary birth, to her volatile stashes with various family members, and her refusals to take no for an answer. Following the life of this ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, war and courage, introduces youngsters to a colourful litany of gods, goddesses, half-gods, heroes and mere mortals. It’s an engrossing genealogy, as entertaining as it is enlightening. The economic ochre and brown colour palette complements the hues of Greek mythology perfectly and enhances the buoyant narrative. There is nothing more alluring than history presented in engaging storytelling. Athena promotes a legitimate reason for young readers to peruse an interest in ancient Greek history because is it 100% captivating. Perfect for all those burgeoning gods and goddesses out there.

Title: Athena: The Story of a Goddess
Author: Imogen Greenberg
Illustrator: Isabel Greenberg
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, $27.99
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781408892497
For ages: 7 – 9
Type: Non Fiction Graphic Picture Book

Buy the Book: Bloomsbury Books


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