Back in the days of corsets and long skirts girls were not expected to be physically brave or financially astute and they certainly weren't meant to know more than men. But many girls did not conform. Willingly or not, they grabbed public attention by exercising their abilities in unusual spheres - and as these drawn-from-real-life picturebooks demonstrate, their stories make vivid and compelling reading.
Cousins Elsie and Frances took photos that electrified the world - but did they fake them? Even Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle couldn’t tell. Joan Procter was a fearless expert who left her mark on science despite a disability, and 62-year-old Annie Taylor was the last person you’d expect to barrel-ride a waterfall.
Textual approaches vary from Sender’s lyrical minimalism to van Allsburg’s in-depth reportage, but it’s their sophisticated and intriguing illustrations that really set these books apart. Words and pictures work together to create evocative storyworlds, drawing us into emotional landscapes and immersing us in something more than we expect.
All three titles are based on historical facts, will spark debates, creative responses and investigations with older readers and are well worth sharing with children and young people from about 6 to 12+ years.
During the First World War, cousins Frances and Elsie took a series of black-and-white photos of the fairies they said they'd played with in the woods near their home. The pictures made headlines worldwide and thousands of people descended on Cottingley to see the fairies for themselves.
This book tells the story from the girls’ perspective – how they made a series of paper cut-outs that fooled the public, how their fairy friends kept messing up the shots and why the adults didn’t understand that fairies could be real and not-real, both at once. Friendly yet sophisticated, serious yet humorous, this picturebook offers rich opportunities for creative and investigative responses with older children and invites historical research.
Van Allsburg uses sepia-coloured documentary-style images, unusual angles and cinematic close-ups to capture Annie’s bravado and pathos. Her story evokes mixed feelings and will inspire discussion and debate.
Copyright: Cast of Thousands 2021 All rights reserved.
Joan didn’t play with dolls, she played with lizards - so when she became curator of the Natural History Museum’s reptile collection just after the First World War, those that knew her weren’t surprised. Women weren’t expected to take such roles but times were changing.
Joan went on to design the reptile house at London Zoo and achieved widespread media attention when she treated a Komodo Dragon for a mouth infection. This picturebook tells an engaging story with immense style and, like its heroine, has a strong and eccentric heart.
This article first appeared in issue 25 of Primary First, the Journal of the National Association for Primary Education
You can find out more about NAPE here
To read issue 25 of Primary First, click here
To see back issues of Primary First, click here
Thu 04 Mar 2021
Thu 25 Feb 2021
Sat 02 Jan 2021
Mon 16 Nov 2020
Fri 13 Nov 2020
Thu 08 Oct 2020
Mon 28 Sep 2020
Tue 15 Sep 2020
Fri 24 Jul 2020
Mon 20 Jul 2020
Wed 27 May 2020
Tue 02 Jun 2020
Sun 26 Apr 2020
Sat 18 Apr 2020
Tue 10 Mar 2020
Thu 05 Mar 2020
Sun 08 Dec 2019
Fri 22 Nov 2019
Fri 18 Oct 2019
Mon 05 Aug 2019
Fri 05 Jul 2019
Sat 15 Jun 2019
Get updates and news from Cast Of Thousands direct to your inbox