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Picture Book Biographies of Women Who Made History

Wilma Mankiller, who died in 2010, was the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, and as most women do who rise to elevated leadership roles, she scrapped and struggled to get there. In WILMA’S WAY HOME: The Life of Wilma Mankiller (Disney-Hyperion, 48 pp., $17.99; ages 7 to 10), Doreen Rappaport and Linda Kukuk unfurl Mankiller’s evolution from “dirt poor” child growing up in a society that devalues Native culture into an exemplar of leadership and strength. It is a detailed account, lovingly rendered in Kukuk’s occasionally awkward but enthusiastic artwork, and skillfully told in Rappaport’s clear and accessible prose. But it is the use of Mankiller’s own words, woven throughout the text, that makes this book soar. Hearing her voice gives us a sense of the real woman. When Mankiller says, “Women can help turn the world right side up,” her sincerity resonates, and we can’t help nodding at the wisdom of her words.

From the first sentence of OUT OF THIS WORLD: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington (Balzer + Bray, 40 pp., $17.99; ages 4 to 8), written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Amanda Hall, readers know that the artist Leonora Carrington is a rebel. “Leonora’s parents wanted her to be like every other well-bred English girl,” Markel writes. “But she was not.” Boarding schools and debutante balls could not quash Leonora’s artist spirit, and she heads to art school, then off to Paris and into the orbit of the Surrealists. But it isn’t until she flees to Mexico ahead of the Nazis that Leonora discovers her true artistic voice. Wisely, Hall chooses not to recreate Carrington’s art (which can be brooding and sexually suggestive). Instead, she creates bright, busy spreads filled with enchantment. Hyenas sport wild, black

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