Reviews for Women Daredevils : Thrills, Chills and Frills

Booklist Reviews 2007 November #2
*Starred Review* A terrific title and striking cover art start off this standout collective biography. Cummins introduces 10 women stunt performers, active from 1880 to 1929--among them, Sonora Webster Carver, who performed with her diving horse even after she lost her sight. Each story includes broad historical context with facts about women's status and societal expectations. The featured women range in age from 15 to 63, and Cummins' lively text provides a sense of each individual by including quotes and physical descriptions. A short, peppy introduction sets the chatty yet factual tone, and a brief chronology, stretching from 1809 to 1933, places each woman in a time line of events important in women's history. Harness' richly colored, detailed illustrations, including full-page portraits, are expressive, realistic, and filled with action that will extend readers' sense of excitement in the women's accomplishments. Perfect for Women's History Month and important all year round, this browsable resource concludes with a one-page source list. Topically related fictional titles, such as Linda Oatman High's Girl on the High-Diving Horse (2003), may provide satisfying further reading for younger children. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 November #2
At a time when women were expected to be domestic angels, this spunky history tracks a handful of female risk-takers who dared to do what they loved despite the danger. Cummins profiles 14 women ranging in age from 15 to 63 who, between 1880 and 1929, performed death-defying acts guaranteed to generate thrills and chills and to challenge myths about the proper place of women. Rosa Richter performed as a human cannonball; Annie Taylor survived Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel; Mlle. D'Zizi and Gertrude Breton flew through space on their bicycles; and blindfolded May Wirth perfected a double backward somersault from one galloping horse to another. Mable Stark won raves as a tiger tamer. Gladys Roy and Gladys Ingle danced on biplane wings. Sonora Carver dove 60 feet into a water tank on the back of a horse. Cummins tells the stories of these and other female daredevils with panache, sensitive to their roles as the "extreme sport" reality-show stars of the day. Harness's action-packed illustrations show each female daredevil performing in period costume and setting. Kudos for bringing to light this hidden slice of female history. (introduction, chronology, sources) (Nonfiction. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 December #3

The divas of derring-do featured in this roster of late-19th- and early-20th-century female boundary-breakers and record-setters will probably be unknown to readers, but their feats will awe even the X Games crowd. Cummins (Tomboy of the Air ) profiles 14 women made famous by their dangerous stunts from the late 1800s through the Roaring Twenties. From May Wirth (hailed as the world's greatest bareback rider for her ability to perform back flips atop a galloping horse) to Zazel ("Human Cannonball in Pink Tights"), each legendary lady receives two double spreads bordered in racy red (a few women who undertook similar exploits share a layout, like wing walkers Gladys Roy and Gladys Ingle). Cummins embeds her animated prose with tidbits that rank high on the wow meter, e.g., the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was 63, not 43 as she claimed at the time--and she could not swim. A full-page illustration accompanies each chapter and depicts the astonishing stunts, e.g., Sonora Carver diving into a small pool from 40 feet up while on horseback (she inspired the film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken ); vignettes and other smaller art further enliven the text. A concluding chronology sets these women's accomplishments within the context of other, more commonly acknowledged female firsts and the path toward equal rights. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 January

Gr 3-5-- This fascinating book is likely to capture readers' imaginations. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's quote, "Well-behaved women rarely make history," is invoked by the author in her introduction and perfectly sums up the tone of this romp through women's history. Ten brief biographies, covering 14 different individuals, are included. The events took place around the turn of the 20th century or shortly after; some of the women are well known, while others are more obscure. For instance, kids might be familiar with Sonora Webster Brown, thanks to the Disney film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken . However, Mademoiselle D'Zizi, who jumped over six elephants on a bike in 1899, may be a new name to them. The whimsical, full-color illustrations have a classic, old-time feel, which suits the subject matter well. Cummins describes the daredevil acts so well that children will feel as if they've watched archival films of them. The time line is exceptional because it lists not only the stunts of each woman in the book, but also other amazing accomplishments by women of the day, such as Genevra Mudge, the first woman to drive a car in America, in 1898. The source notes are thorough and interesting in and of themselves. Put this book on display--the cover illustration of Zazel being shot from a cannon will dare browsers to take a peek inside.--Laura Lutz, Queens Borough Public Library, NY

[Page 103]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.