Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is for people who want something different from fairy tale princesses. Here you can read the stories of one hundred amazing women from the past and present.

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We all know how fairy tales go. A beautiful girl waits for a prince to find her. Then she gets married to him and becomes a princess. But what if the girl was clever or strong instead of beautiful? What if she wanted to be an astronaut, a politician or a pirate instead of a princess? And what if she didn’t need a prince to do it? That’s the idea behind the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. It’s a book of fairy tales with a difference: all the stories are true.

The book tells the stories of one hundred amazing women from 1500 BC to today. But, the stories aren’t just boring biographies. Instead, they’re like fairy tales. You probably won’t know the names of most of the women but, when you finish reading, you’ll ask yourself why. Sometimes, it’s because people tried to remove them from history. Like Hatshepsut, one of the most important queens of Egypt. After she died, some men broke her statues and removed her name from documents. Other times, it’s because a man’s name became more famous. For example, Charles Babbage is called the ‘father of computers’ but a woman, Ada Lovelace, wrote the first computer program.

Why haven’t we learned about these women before? Often history remembers men more than women. If you close your eyes and think of a war hero and a pilot, you probably think of men. If you read the book, those pictures might start to become women of all colours and ages. The women in the book did things because they wanted to and they didn’t listen when people told them not to.

One problem with the book, unfortunately, is its name, because it gives the idea it’s a book for girls. It’s a great idea to show young girls what women can do. But the stories are also interesting for boys to read. And it’s also important that boys can think of women in jobs like doctor, Formula One race car driver and president.

Not all the women included are ‘good girls’. One woman, Jingū, Empress of Japan, decided to start a war with Korea because of a dream. Is it a problem that the book doesn’t say that was a bad thing? Another example is pirates. The two women pirates in the book are unusual heroes because pirates were dangerous and they killed other people. It’s good to see a variety of women but why not show a bad ending to their story sometimes? We can understand that just because they’re female, they’re not always good people.

You could read one story every night but you probably won’t want to stop with one. If you finish quickly, don’t worry because there are now two Rebel Girls books. The writers, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, found the money to make both books from crowdfunding on Kickstarter. In 2016 they got one million dollars from 13,454 people from 75 countries. For the second book, in 2017, they did it again. This time they found another $866,000. The first book sold a million copies in 36 different languages and the second book will probably do the same. 

Nicola Prentis

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