Girls are Best.
Hardback 7.99 [pounds sterling]
In this lively, informative book, television personality Sandi Toksvig takes the reader on journey through the achievements of women. What may look at first like a potentially trivial, amusing read, is a source of much fascinating material.
Written in a lighthearted tone which has some resemblance to that of the 'Horrible History' series, Toksvig addresses the issue of why women are often overlooked in certain aspects of life, and she sets out to prove the achievements of women via a type of encyclopaedic survey which moves over historical periods and across cultures. The prose style is pacy and succinct. Toksvig maintains a dialogue with the reader from the contents page throughout the 14 short sections which make up the book. The book covers a variety of topics, including clothing, warfare, scientific discoveries, food, paintings, politics, business and entertainment.
Toksvig sets out to prove that in every area of life, women have recorded achievements which equal those of men by using as her illustrations a range of female personalities, e.g. Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822-1911) who devised the Turkish pantaloons as an escape from the restrictive female clothing of the corset and big skirt; Lady Mary Killigre (1530-1570) who engaged in acts of piracy; Conchita Cintron, the first professional female bullfighter, through to Madonna and Jacqueline Wilson. The only obvious omission is space exploration, which would have added another dimension, and references to 21st century female achievers are slight in comparison with the historical sections.
The section on the differences between male and female brains is particularly fascinating, as Toksvig explores the female ability to 'multi-task' contrasted with the male ability to map read. The text works on two levels, as a source of information and as an absorbing read in its own right. Short question/answer sections break up the small chunks of text which are complemented by witty black and white illustrations. Any technical vocabulary is clearly explained.
Although pitched at the younger reader, there is much here to interest and intrigue an adult audience. This small, robust hardback could be good addition to a bookbox.