Tsui, Bonnie, and Sophie Diao, illustrator. Sarah and the Big Wave: The True Story of the First Woman to Surf Mavericks. Henry Holt and Company, 2021. 978-1-250-23948-8. unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.
Sarah Gerhardt grew up surfing little, medium, and big waves (her favorite!) on Oahu’s North Shore, which is famous for its huge waves, some of which top the height of a five-story building. As one of just a few girl surfers, Sarah struggled to find the right size surfboards and wetsuits; luckily, she found a circle of friends that included a surfboard shaper who made boards that were just right for her. She later moved to California, where her new home was near Mavericks, the famous big-wave surf break. With its monster waves, “Mount Everest meets Niagara Falls” was a dangerous place to surf, and no woman had ever done it … until Sarah! Illustrator Sophie Diao captures Sarah’s history-making ride, and its epic scale, in a made-for-storytime flip-up page. Throughout Sarah and the Big Wave, Diao’s digitally rendered artwork beautifully captures the ever-changing colors of the ocean and the power of its biggest waves. A timeline of milestones in the history of women and surfing complete this fantastic picture book biography.
THOUGHTS: This upbeat, inspiring true story is positively swell.
Picture Book Biography Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD
Cimino, Luciana, and Sergio Algozzino, illustrator. Laura Garofalo, translator. The Incredible Nellie Bly: Journalist, Investigator, Feminist, and Philanthropist. Abrams ComicArts, 2021. 978-1-419-75017-5. 137 p. $24.99. Gr. 8+.
The subtitle of this wonderful graphic biography of Nellie Bly lets readers know that they are about to learn the life story of a true trailblazer! Nellie Bly is maybe most famous for going undercover in 1887 at an asylum for mentally ill women, exposing the horrible treatment patients received there. Her 1889 trip around the world in just seventy-two days is also very well-documented. Within the frame of a series of conversations between a female student at Columbia University’s Journalism School and an elderly Bly, The Incredible Nellie Bly covers these and her many other impressive accomplishments. Such achievements include reporting “in disguise” from a factory and debunking stereotypes about the “immoral” women workers there, interviewing Belva Ann Lockwood (the United States’ first female presidential candidate), and reporting from Europe’s Eastern front during World War I. Her trendsetting celebrity, and the inevitable backlash, are also depicted. Sergio Algozzino’s digitally created artwork, in appealing shades of yellow and blue as represented on the cover, evokes the times in which Nellie Bly lived and worked.
THOUGHTS: This is a – yes – incredible introduction to the extraordinary life and legacy of a woman who never accepted society’s restrictions but was “forever the author of her own destiny” (from the Introduction).
Graphic Biography Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD