Book Review: Wild Women of the Wild West

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Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
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Book Review: Wild Women of the Wild West

Postby Prof. Tarma Amelia Black » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:28 am

Title of the book: Wild Women of the Wild West
Authors: Jonah Winter and Illustrated by: Susan Guevara
Series: no
Genres: nonfiction, biography, historical, childrens, history, women, picture books
Short summary of the story: This is a children's book with short biographical stories on several different 'wild women' of the 'wild west' of North America. Some of the women presented in the book are Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, Nellie Cashman and Dona Maria Gertrudis "La Tules" Barcelo. A very brief story is told about each woman and a lovely painting of the woman is on the opposite page. The paintings are based on actual photographs of the people involved, except for two, where as much research as possible was done by the artist.

I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea of the existence of several of these women. An excellent bibliography is at the back of the book, in case I wish to read up more on any of them. I think I was mostly struck by the story of the businesswoman Mary Ellen Pleasant. While I had known about the existence of the Underground Railroad, I had no idea that Mary Ellen Pleasant secretly provided the last station on it in San Francisco. She gave sanctuary, jobs and shelter to many of the first black settlers in what would become California.

In addition to the stories, there is a "Wild West Time Line", covering the dates of the activities of the stories. There is also an awesome map -- the Illustrator writes: "The map was referenced from a reproduction of the original drawn by G. W. Colton, and published by J. H. Colton, New York, 1850." Some fascinating information is available on it -- for example, the name "California" is applied to what is now called "Baja California" and "Baja California Sur" or "Baja Peninsula" and "Upper or New California" is applied to what is now called California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and perhaps parts of Colorado and New Mexico.

Note: This is a book I chose to read for the Book Bingo, to cover one of the categories. I'm glad I did -- I had no idea that some of these women lived and did what they did.

Goodreads write-up:
Annie Oakley could shoot a gun better than any man in the Wild West. Mary Fields hauled stones and lumber; when one man challenged her, she beat him in a gunfight.

Time after time, Polly Pry, a newspaper reporter, risked her life when she exposed bad guys and wrote the truth. And Sarah Winnemucca, daughter of a Paiute chief, fought in battle, negotiated peace between Indians and settlers, and gained civil rights for her people.

Biographical sketches, color portraits and sepia line drawings reveal the accomplishments of fifteen amazing women whose adventurous spirit helped build our nation.
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