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Bad Girls
Cover of Bad Girls
Bad Girls
Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves and Other Female Villains
Borrow Borrow

From Jezebel to Catherine the Great, from Cleopatra to Mae West, from Mata Hari to Bonnie Parker, strong women have been a problem for historians, storytellers, and readers. Strong females smack of the unfeminine. They have been called wicked, wanton, and willful. Sometimes that is a just designation, but just as often it is not. "Well-behaved women seldom make history," is the frequently quoted statement by historian and feminist Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. But what makes these misbehaving women "bad"? Are we idolizing the wicked or salvaging the strong?

In BAD GIRLS, readers meet twenty-six of history's most notorious women, each with a rotten reputation. But authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple remind us that there are two sides to every story. Was Delilah a harlot or hero? Was Catherine the Great a great ruler, or just plain ruthless? At the end of each chapter, Yolen and Stemple appear as themselves in comic panels as they debate each girl's badness--Heidi as the prosecution, Jane for context.

This unique and sassy examination of famed, female historical figures will engage readers with its unusual presentation of the subject matter. Heidi and Jane's strong arguments for the innocence and guilt of each bad girl promotes the practice of critical thinking as well as the idea that history is subjective. Rebecca Guay's detailed illustrations provide a rich, stylized portrait of each woman, while the inclusion of comic panels will resonate with fans of graphic novels.

From Jezebel to Catherine the Great, from Cleopatra to Mae West, from Mata Hari to Bonnie Parker, strong women have been a problem for historians, storytellers, and readers. Strong females smack of the unfeminine. They have been called wicked, wanton, and willful. Sometimes that is a just designation, but just as often it is not. "Well-behaved women seldom make history," is the frequently quoted statement by historian and feminist Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. But what makes these misbehaving women "bad"? Are we idolizing the wicked or salvaging the strong?

In BAD GIRLS, readers meet twenty-six of history's most notorious women, each with a rotten reputation. But authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple remind us that there are two sides to every story. Was Delilah a harlot or hero? Was Catherine the Great a great ruler, or just plain ruthless? At the end of each chapter, Yolen and Stemple appear as themselves in comic panels as they debate each girl's badness--Heidi as the prosecution, Jane for context.

This unique and sassy examination of famed, female historical figures will engage readers with its unusual presentation of the subject matter. Heidi and Jane's strong arguments for the innocence and guilt of each bad girl promotes the practice of critical thinking as well as the idea that history is subjective. Rebecca Guay's detailed illustrations provide a rich, stylized portrait of each woman, while the inclusion of comic panels will resonate with fans of graphic novels.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.4
  • Lexile:
    800
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book There are more bad girls in history than we can count: murderesses, drunkards, torturers, batterers, fences, slatterns, liars, layabouts, and total louts, as well as wicked mothers, grandmothers, and stepmothers. The list is endless, even though females are supposedly the gentler sex.
    Often, though, a tough girl, an outspoken girl—an active, smart, forward-looking girl—is mistaken for a bad one. A strong leader is considered a wrong leader when that leader is female.
    In this book we are taking a look back through history at all manner of famous female felons. We're looking at the baddest of the bad, as well as those who may have been just misunderstood. The crimes in question happened hundreds, even thousands, of years ago—and some of them may have never happened at all. Our bad girls are a mixed bag. Some committed criminal acts, some morally wrong acts. Some acts are, perhaps, less criminal than justifiable, brave, or even committed in self-defense. We cannot compare badness by counting bodies. After all, do three hundred Protestants burned at the stake by Queen Mary outweigh the two that Lizzie Borden was accused (though acquitted) of killing? Nor can we compare badness by measuring crimes—Pearl Hart's stagecoach robbery might seem tame in comparison to Salome's hand in a great prophet's execution. Each bad girl can only be judged standing on her own.
    Everyone is entitled to her own opinion, and you will see ours. We certainly don't always agree with each other, and we don't expect you to agree with us either. Every crime—no matter how heinous—comes with its own set of circumstances, aggravating and mitigating, which can tip the scales of guilt. And views change. The line between right and wrong, criminal and hero, good girl and bad, is sometimes very thin. Though some acts—and some girls—will always be bad through and through.
About the Author-
  • Jane Yolen is the award-winning author of nearly three hundred children's books, including SEA QUEENS; LAST LAUGHS; SNOW, SNOW: WINTER POEMS (Boyds Mills), and THE ROGUES (Philomel). She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of the Americas. Jane lives in Western Massachusetts and Scotland. Heidi E. Y. Stemple is the author of more than a dozen children's books, several co-authored with her mother, Jane Yolen. Recent titles include PRETTY PRINCESS PIG and NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS IN PINK. Heidi lives in western Massachusetts.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 7, 2013
    Mother-daughter collaborators Yolen and Stemple, who previously partnered with Guay on The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories, revisit the lives and legendary misdeeds of 26 notorious women in this often witty chronological romp. Jezebel, Salome, Calamity Jane, Mata Hari, and many more get their own brief chapters, complete with punny subtitles (“Delilah: A Mere Snip of a Girl”). The team’s tight, droll storytelling maintains a light tone: “Always conscious of her image, Bonnie asked one kidnapped police officer to tell everyone she did not smoke cigars.... She may have been an outlaw, but she was not a smoker!” Comics sections from Guay end each chapter, showing Yolen and Stemple debating, via Socratic repartee, the guiltiness of each femme fatale, an entertaining if slightly
    egregious bit of authorial intrusion. If the authors’ banter hasn’t prompted readers to question the badness of these bad girls, the conclusion directly solicits the consideration: “Would we still consider these women bad? Or would we consider them victims of bad circumstances?” An extensive bibliography and index wrap up this narrative of nefarious—or not?—women. Ages 10–13.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2013
    Brief, breezy profiles of women who committed crimes, from Delilah to Catherine the Great to gangster moll Virginia Hill, with comic-strip commentary from the authors. With a conversational style, the mother-daughter team of Yolen and Stemple recap the crimes and misdeeds of 26 women and a few girls in this jaunty collective biography. After each two-to-four-page biographical sketch and accompanying illustration of the woman, a one-page comic strip shows the authors arguing about the woman's guilt. The comic-strip Stemple typically comes down on the side of "guilty" or, in the case of Cleopatra marrying her brother, "icky." Yolen tends toward moral relativism, suggesting the women acted according to the norms of their times or that they were driven to crime by circumstances such as poverty or lack of women's rights. Thus, strip-teasing Salome, who may have been only 10, was manipulated by her mother into asking for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Outlaw Belle Starr was "a good Southern girl raised during difficult times." While the comic strips grow repetitive, the narrative portraits, arranged chronologically, offer intriguing facts--and in some cases, speculation--about an array of colorful figures, many of whom won't be known to readers. Entertaining and eye-opening. (bibliography, index) (Collective biography. 12-15)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2013

    Gr 5-9-Who's bad? That's the question that Yolen and Stemple debate as they take an entertaining tour through the lives of some of history's most notorious women. Arranged chronologically from Delilah to mob courier Virginia Hill, this deck of 26 dicey dames includes royalty (Bloody Mary, Catherine of Russia), women of the Wild West (Belle Starr, Calamity Jane), and out-and-out criminals (Moll Cutpurse, Bonnie Parker). Guay gives a lush, period-appropriate poster-style portrait at the beginning of each two- to eight-page chapter, which contains a rough outline of each lady's supposed crimes along with the "aggravating or mitigating" circumstances that may influence readers' opinions of her guilt. The authors make the point that evolving attitudes and standards can make reassessment an interesting and fruitful exercise, even if, as in most of the cases here, no definitive conclusions are reached. Yolen and Stemple speak directly to readers and appear bickering delightfully as they model good discussion behavior (and shoes!) in a page of comics at the end of each chapter. Their enthusiasm for their subjects is contagious, abetted by playful language that makes Bad Girls a snap-crackling read. Alliteration, rhyme, short sentences, and a conversational tone combine with sometimes-challenging vocabulary to make this book quick but by no means dumbed-down. A hearty bibliography will give a girl a leg up on the further reading that she is sure to want to do. Feminist, intelligent, and open-ended, this book respects its readers as much as it does its subjects.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • DOGO Books ggreads - This book is amazing!!!!!!!!!
  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 15, 2013
    Grades 7-10 *Starred Review* Girls gone wild! The mother-daughter team of Yolen and Stemple have rounded up some of the meanest (or perhaps just misguided) group of gals history has known. And they have wrapped them in an attractive package that makes reading about their exploits even more enjoyable. The list begins with the biblical Delilah (sorry, Sampson), introduces Cleopatra, stops in England to say hello to Anne Boleyn and (bloody) Queen Mary, and then heads over to America to visit with Tituba, Calamity Jane, and Typhoid Mary. And that's just a few of the 26 spies, sirens, and female felons the duo takes on. Each subject gets a jauntily written page or so, prefaced by one of illustrator Guay's terrific full-page portraits and back-ended with a comic bookstyle page featuring the authors discussing whether the woman was exactly what she seemed. In fact, both an introduction and afterword focus on how history changes its opinion on people's actions, the way history's winners get the glory, and whether circumstances shape events more than personalities do. The thick paper, graphic novelstyle typeface, and delightful artwork executed in ink and brush and dabbed with digital color will draw readers. The bibliography will lead kids to more about these gals.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves and Other Female Villains
Jane Yolen
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