Category Archives: women in leadership


Written by: Samira Ahmed

Cover Art by: art by Dana Ledl, design by Karina Granda 

For ages: YA 12 years and up

Language: English, some Arabic.

Topics Covered: Islamophobia, Internment, Violence, Military Action, Oppression, History, Subversion, Independent Thought, Activism, Friendship, Love, Growing Up, Relationships. 


For #sweetsandsocialjustice I wanted to make a pairing where the food was reminiscent of the book.  So I made these super flat and chewy chocolate oatmeal cookies to represent the landscape where the book takes place.  The dusty camp is in the desert, and the chocolate I used was super dark (I only had 73% cacao hanging around) and almost bitter.  I dubbed them “adult cookies” because they’re not very sweet and have a nutty taste from the almond flour.

I really enjoyed this book.  The plot takes events ripped straight from the news, and an unnamed bigoted American president has followed through on the Muslim travel ban.  Continuing on, Muslim citizens find themselves being fired from jobs and subject to a strict curfew.  Layla Amin is a teenager wishing things would go back to normal, when she and her Jewish boyfriend David were free to show PDA in school, and go out on dates at night.  However, one night after a close call sneaking back after curfew, Layla is in her room when she sees a van pull up in front of her house and a group of soldiers in unfamiliar fatigues.  Layla and her parents are taken from their home and transported to the first Muslim Internment camp, which the Director of the camp hopes to be a model for future camps to open all across the country.  At the camp, life is dismal.  However, Layla finds some friends.  Some are also interned with her, and some are in charge of keeping the internees subordinate.  Can Layla’s guard friend be trusted?

I read this book in a single day, despite it being almost 400 pages.  I really enjoyed it, and was hooked instantly.  Layla draws parallels between what is happening to her and the concentration camps of WWII, showing how white complicitness can lead to destruction.  I would have loved at least a chapter in between the end and the Epilogue, it felt rushed. But also, I was enjoying the book so much I would have gladly read the story split into 2 books, giving room for more story.  The book is a call to action to never become complicit, and specifically to those of us with white privilege to use it on behalf of marginalized groups.  In the back is a wonderful and emotional author’s note, which I urge everyone to read.


  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I use either Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur 1:1 if baking gluten free)
  • 1/2 c ground almond flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt (I use coarse kosher)
  • 1 c softened salted butter
  • 1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c maple sugar (white granulated is also fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. chopped chocolate (I like super dark to make it less sweet)

Combine dries (except oats) into a bowl and whisk together, set aside. Cream butter and sugars, adding eggs afterward one at a time.  Add dries and mix until just combined. Add oats and vanilla. Stir in chocolate. Pop dough in freezer for 15-20 minutes, or in the fridge for a few hours.  Scoop onto sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, allow to set on cookies sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.

About the Author:

ahmed_07Born in Bombay India and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois, Samira Ahmed spent countless hours at the library in her small hometown nestled in an oversized armchair next to an old Victorian fireplace with her nose in an Agatha Christie novel or re-reading Little Women, hoping that Jo would somehow end up with Laurie this time. Samira always loved to write—especially poetry–-but never actually dreamed of becoming a writer until she was an adult and an idea for a story captured her imagination and wouldn’t let go.

She received her BA and MAT from the University of Chicago and went on to teach high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and the New York City Public Schools. After she left the classroom, she worked in education non-profits, helping to create more than seventy small high schools in New York City and fought to secure billions of dollars in public school funding throughout New York State.

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filtersand the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

The Girl Who Rode A Shark

Written by: Ailsa Ross

Illustrated by: Amy Blackwell

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Historical Figures, Adventure, Global Community, Feminism, Trailblazer. 


This is a really fascinating and fantastic book that travels both the globe and history.  When going through the pages, readers are treated to a large colorful illustration that compliments a page-long summary of an amazing girl.

We learn about some well-known greats like Amelia Earhart and Maria Merian, but also some lesser-known badasses like dancer-turned-scientist Nalini Nadkarni, the amputee athlete that climbed Mt. Everest Arunima Sinha, and education activist Shannen Koostachin.  Something that I really like about the book too, is after we learn about someone, there are two other women mentioned that have done the same thing.  For example, I read about Ethiopian activist Naomi Wadler.  After reading about her quest to make the voices of girls of color heard, the reader is given two other names of young activists (Mari Copeny and Marley Dias).  By doing this, if a particular story hooks in the reader there is now more people to check out for further research! I really love books that can have this kind of knowledge extension, and taking a global approach to this with a heavy dose of social justice makes for an excellent book to spend an afternoon reading.

The Girl Who Rode a Shark is along the same vein of books like Rad American Women and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, making compendiums of feminist heroes for all readers to be inspired by.  I personally really like these types of books.  I think they open readers’ eyes to all the different ways to make a difference in the world and also acknowledges that everyone’s path is different and can be rocky at times.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ailsa-faceAilsa Ross writes about nature, people and place for Outside, the Guardian, BBC History, Longreads, National Geographic Traveler, JSTOR Daily, the Irish Independent, Evening Standard, Roads & Kingdoms, Atlas Obscura, Time Out and many others.

She’s the author of the illustrated children’s book The Woman Who Rode a Shark: And 50 More Wild Female Adventurers (UK).

A USBBY Outstanding International Book 2020, around the rest of the world it’s available as The Girl Who Rode a Shark: and Other Stories of Daring Women.

In the autumn of 2019, with the Writers’ Trust of Canada, she was the writer-in-residence at Berton House in the Yukon.

Under the Carlyle Norman Scholarship, in 2018 she was a Banff Centre resident of the Mountain and Wilderness Writing program. Her research and creative writing has also been supported by the Orion Environmental Writers Workshop, and by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Amy-2smallAmy Blackwell is a painter, printmaker, knitter, maker, writer, reader and is very fond of pancakes.

Amy is based in the midlands and has a small studio space at backlit in Nottingham – this is where the magic (doodling/printing/bad singing) happens. She’s inspired by the weird and wonderful, clashing colors, the natural world, history, fashion and folklore. Amy paints, prints and draws and has done so (to varying levels of success) since day one.

Lillian’s Right to Vote

Written by: Jonah Winter

Illustrated by: Shane W. Evans

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Voting Rights, Civil Rights, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Historical Figure. 


Happy Saturday!  For this round of #sweetsandsocialjustice we decided to make a classic amaretto almond Bundt cake to go with this fantastic library book we had taken pictures of before it closed. Swipe to see the cake we made, we weren’t able to photograph them together.  If you’re also making delicious treats and pairing them with books, don’t forget to use the hashtag and tag us!

Right now with the current state of the world, voting and elections are an important topic right now.  Lillian’s Right to Vote reminds readers that voting rights of marginalized populations are always under attack, and we need to remain vigilant.

Lillian is a very old woman, and she is at the bottom of a hill.  Beginning to walk up, she is steeped in memories of her family and how they had been enslaved in the area where she now walks, and had no rights.  The hill is both real in the story-her polling location is at the top-and it is also a metaphor for the struggle for her right to vote.  With the dignity and pride of her ancestors giving her strength, Lillian walks on.  The reader is privy to these memories or struggle before freedom, and learns about the unfair treatment that Black voters went through to be able to exercise their rights.  Answering inane questions like how many bubbles a bar of soap has to getting shot for peacefully protesting, Lillian’s ancestors paved the way for her on this voting day.

This book was made as a commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Lillian is a symbol for the integrity and grit that marginalized populations like Black Americans and Indigenous peoples that were denied exercising their rights for so long.  Lillian in the story is based on Lillian Allen, who at the age of one hundred was campaigning for Obama on foot!  An Author’s Note talks about the struggles that some folks still encounter today, such as Voter ID laws that can be used to deny voting rights today.

Recipe: Amaretto Almond Bundt Cake

* We found this recipe originally on and have adapted it slightly for our tastes!


2.5c all purpose flour (I usually use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gf flour)

1/2c almond flour

1t salt

1t baking powder

1t baking soda

1c  softened butter

1c maple sugar (granulated is fine if you don’t have maple)

1c dark brown sugar

4 eggs

3T amaretto

1t vanilla extract

2t almond extract

1c milk (we usually use soy or almond because that’s what we keep on hand)


Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between, then add extracts.  Mix in dries alternating with milk, until just combined. Bake at 350 degrees in a Bundt pan 50-60 minutes. Cool before glazing! I usually make an orange flavored glaze, but you can use whatever you prefer! Just make it thick but pourable.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Jonah-WinterJonah Winter is a children’s book author and writes mainly picture book biographies.  Jonah Winter has illustrated two of his own books and writes poetry for adults in addition to children’s books. Jonah Winter likes to be referred to by his full name, at all times, even by his friends.  He  likes to visit schools and talk to children about his books and other things, too. Jonah Winter is not a fan of the internet, which is why it took him so long to have a website.  These facts we got from his website, where he also has a page with myths about himself.  They are in fact quite hilarious and you should definitely check them out!

Shane-Evans-via-google-imagesShane Evans has spoken at many schools and events all over the country. Speaking to people of ALL AGES about his art, books and inspiration. As a book illustrator Shane has found a natural audience in children from ages 5 and up. Audiences find themselves on a journey through slides that take them around the world from Japan to Africa and all adventures in between. Shane shows viewers how he creates his books and works wonderfully with youth, sharing the business of art and the techniques of organizing ideas to create illustrations. Evans has also conducted art workshops with students and adults, helping them to hone in on their own special talents through his professional guidance.

Muslim Girls Rise

Written by: Saira Mir

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

For ages: 8-13 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Muslim Women, Trailblazers, Historical Figures, Self-Empowerment, Feminism, Sports, Culture & Identity, Global Community, Own Voices. 


This book is a lovely book, almost anthology-like, of 18 Muslim girls (and women) that are changing the world and blazing trails.  Some are well-known public figures like Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, and champion fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.  Others, like Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah and comedian Negin Farsad might be less known.  The beauty of this book is that the short single page profiles of these strong and intelligent women is that they span the globe and professional career market.  Sports, fashion, legislation, and STEM.  These women are fantastic role models for any job aspirations!

Muslim Girls Rise is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf, and having these women as inspiration to pursue one’s own interests and dreams.  Unfortunately also, Islamophobia is so prevalent that this book can also serve as a line of defense.  Collecting stories of strength and resilience helps a person develop their own, and have individuals to look up to in times of hardship or perhaps deciding on what career trajectory to take.  Either way, these short stories will inspire any reader to change the world in their own way!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

SARIA MIR is a Muslim physician from Washington, DC, who has searched far and wide for books to help her daughter find feminist role models who share her heritage. Saira wrote Muslim Girls Rise for her, and hopes to share it with other children eager to learn more about these extraordinary, path-breaking women.





aaliya-45AALIYA JALEEL is a freelance illustrator, character designer, and visual development artist. She is currently majoring in animation at the University of Texas at Dallas with plans to work as a visual development artist after graduation.

Imogene’s Last Stand

Written by: Candace Fleming

Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Politics, Women in Leadership, Preservation, Activism, Peaceful Action, Feminism.

Summary: I checked out this book from the library with cautious optimism.  I was hoping that the book would have solid representation in historical figures and not be another ode to the founding fathers of the United States.  Imogene, our main character, is a spitfire that is far from embracing stereotypes.

Imogene Tripp has a fiery passion for history, and uses her free time to educate people on the past while quoting MLK Jr. and giving lectures on Sojourner Truth during Show & Tell in school.  When she refurbishes her town’s historical society, no one shows up.  In fact, the town plans to tear it down and build a shoelace factory.  Indignant, Imogene commences various demonstrations around town, urging her community to care about the past they’re determined to erase.  Alone in her quest, she is undeterred and continues to demonstrate perseverance to the reader.  Imogene quotes historical figures throughout the book to express her feelings, and seeks solace in her father when people keep telling her that a shoelace factory is what will put their town on the map.  Imogene decides to put herself in the stocks on the porch of the historical society in a one-girl protest movement, quoting Vietnam War protestors.  Slowly, she begins to draw attention to herself (and her dad, who decides to also lock himself in the stocks in solidarity!) and townspeople begin to gather on the historical society lawn amongst the bulldozers.

We’ll spoil the ending on this one, because it’s so important to the story.  In the end, a letter that Imogene hastily fires off to a professor works and the professor arrives in the knick of time with the President!  In an act of feminism, both of these WOMEN help Imogene save her precious historical society.  The President is a woman of color!  We love the fact that Imogene uses direct quotes of historical figures throughout the book.  The majority of the figures quoted are white men, but Imogene does speak of protests and marginalized groups to get her most dynamic points across.  It’s really great to see a strong, intelligent, girl as a main character of a book that is history-based.  The book would be great to introduce social justice movements, activism, and historical figures.  Imogene’s Last Stand is a fantastic addition to any book shelf!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ph_cfleming_2013_72dpi_185px.jpgCandace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a ten-page, ten-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.

Today, Candace is the versatile and acclaimed author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize honored The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Russian Empire; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award-winning biography, The Lincolns; the bestselling picture book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; the Sibert-Award-winning Giant Squid; and the beloved Boxes for Katje. She contributed the chapter on Katharine of Aragon to Fatal Throne.

image-asset-3Nancy Carpenter is the celebrated illustrator of more than forty books for children. Her unique multimedia approach to illustration has garnered numerous honors, including two Christopher Awards and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Ms. Carpenter lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family and dog.

Women Make Movies Vol I & II and and interview with creator Alex Kittle!

Written & Illustrated by: Alex Kittle

For ages: YA middle and upper grades 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Zine, Women in Film, Trailblazers, Historical Figures. 

Summary: Today marks our first Zine review on The Tiny Activist!  Truth be told, Corrie bought these ages ago when she went to a talk by the artist Alex Kittle, but life happened and didn’t get a chance to review the first volume until now (sorry Alex 😦 truly nothing personal, you’re a badass!).  This is the perfect month to feature her, during Women’s History Month!  Both of us really enjoy zines, but don’t have any that we absolutely have to collect every single volume.  These however, are fulfilling that category!

This first volume contains 15 women filmmaker bios, featuring both past and present directors!  We love the bulleted list of information about each woman, it doesn’t feel overwhelming and is perfect to memorize for the defeat of that cinephile mansplainer in your life (everyone has one…do they have an obnoxious mustache? Probably.) We also love the digital image and quote by the director on the opposite page, and the monochromatic art.  Some featured filmmakers are: Ava DuVernay, Clara Law, Julie Dash, and Lois Weber.

In Volume II we learn about Maya Deren, Mira Nair, Dee Rees, and so many more!  I love the quickness at which these zines can be read, but am always left wanting more.

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!
me-lewitt-2019-734x900Alex Kittle: Hello! I’m Alex and my brand name is Pan + Scan Illustration. I am an illustrator based in Somerville, MA making digital artwork and zines inspired by pop culture, especially film.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
AK: Many things! I went to school for art history and that remains one of my greatest passions, especially various modern and contemporary art movements. I also love 80s music, fantasy novels, and Italian food. My most obvious passion though is film and it’s the main inspiration for my own work. I watch a ridiculous amount of movies across all genres, with some faves being horror, sci-fi, classic musicals, and romantic comedies. I’m also very passionate about watching and promoting films written and/or directed by women.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
AK: I’ve turned to zinemaking recently and my major project is a long-term portrait and zine series about women filmmakers, where I illustrate and research directors like Agnès Varda, Dee Rees, Maya Deren, Ava DuVernay, and Deepa Mehta. I want to bring more visibility to all the amazing women directors who inspire me, sharing their stories, works, and struggles in an accessible way. I know the conversation about women in film and tv has become much more mainstream recently which is great, but there are also so many directors who are still under the radar – historical, international, queer, experimental, women of color, etc – and I really want to spread the word!
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
AK: I sell my work online on etsy and have an art insta (@panandscan). I also do various markets and artist events around the Somerville/Cambridge/Boston area; upcoming events include Pindemonium at Bow Market (10/13), the Halloween Buzz Market at ONCE Somerville (10/26), and the Boston Art Book Fair at the Boston Center for the Arts (11/8-10).
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019?
81xHOjzbHLLAK: I love fantasy and one of my favorite authors Sharon Shinn released a whole new trilogy this year called Uncommon Echoes that’s full of intrigue, romance, and wonderful heroines. I’ve only read the first book so far but I’m excited to dive into the other two!
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
AK: I plan to start a new zine series about some of my favorite lesser-known artists in history, including Romaine Brooks, Claude Cahun, Lois Mailou Jones, and Ruth Asawa. I want to create illustrated biographies to talk about their lives and artworks in an accessible, visually interesting way – I’m always hoping to make art history less intimidating in general and I thought zines would be a fun way to do that!

Stay Connected with Alex:



Canadian Women: Now + Then

Written by: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrated by: Maïa Faddoul

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: History, Biography, Canadian Women, Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Women in STEM, Women in Sports, Feminism, Journalism. 


Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a fantastic day to honor those past and present who have changed the world, and Canadian Women: Now + Then is a sensational book that we want to celebrate on this day.

I absolutely love how this book pairs up women from the past and present day who changed the face of history.  Going alphabetically, the reader learns about activists, astronauts, culture keepers, poets, and SO MANY more badass women that everyone needs to know about, especially outside of Canada.  We live in a very Eurocentric world, and particularly American culture and politics has pervaded  much of the media and education system.  This sounds fake, but I have had Canadian friends have to explain to Americans that they celebrate Black History Month in Canada but not MLK Jr. Day.  These assumptions are caused by elitism and ignorance, and the best way to combat these harmful ways of living is through education.  

Dang, I’m glad this book exists.  The women profiled in Canadian Women are diverse and from all walks of life, with a solid amount of First Nations women included as well such as dancer Santee Smith (Tekaronhiáhkhwa) and Shanawdithit, who preserved her Beothuk culture the best she could under the crushing force of European colonialist invasion. It’s clear that the creators of the book put First Nations and women of color at the forefront, and I am so pleased with that choice!

In the back are smaller profiles of even more inspiring Canadian women, such as one of our favorite artists Kenojuak Ashevak!  Jam-packed with historical information and adorable illustrations, this book will be sitting on our bookshelf for ages to come.

This book was sent to us by Kids Can Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

elizabeth_macleodElizabeth MacLeod became a writer at a young age. When she and her older brothers were supposed to be doing homework, instead they were sliding crazy drawings and silly stories under one another’s bedroom doors. Elizabeth couldn’t draw (unfortunately, she still can’t), so she wrote wild tales about mad scientists and creatures from alien planets. Not a lot of homework got done!

While at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth didn’t take a single writing course. Instead, she studied science, graduating with an honors degree in biology and botany. That science training came in handy when she started in children’s publishing as the managing editor at OWL Magazine. Then she became an editor and writer at Kids Can Press, where she’s written on subjects ranging from Albert Einstein and horses to Mount Everest and Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Now Elizabeth is a very nosy freelance writer who loves finding out why people do the things they do, so she especially liked writing the books in the “Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History” series (for kids ages 8 to 12) and the “Inspiring Lives” series (for kids ages 6 to 8).

A proud Canadian, Elizabeth loves writing about people who live in Canada and have changed the country — and sometimes the world. As a female writer, she thinks it’s vital that kids know about the courageous women who have improved our lives, so she’s really pleased to share her book Canadian Women Now + Then with readers. Elizabeth wrote about a different kind of brave Canadian in her book Bunny the Brave War Horse, the incredible true story about a horse from Toronto, Ontario, who served with amazing courage in World War I.

Elizabeth and her husband live in Toronto, where their cat, Cosimo, is usually sprawled across her desk!

ma_a_faddoulMaïa Faddoul was born in Montreal, Quebec, to an Argentine mother and a Lebanese father. Her maternal grandfather was a theme park illustrator, and she’d always been interested in drawings and imagery of any kind. Having studied both illustration and design at Dawson College and UQAM, she now works as a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer, creating empowering, bright and colorful imagery, often with an important message.

Her upbringing, heavily rooted in core intersectional feminist values, has led her to work on many projects centered on women and the LGBTQ+ community, in the hopes of using her talent and creativity to help bring more visibility and power to young and misrepresented groups across the globe. This aspect of her work has allowed her to collaborate on a variety of great projects with clients such as Teen Vogue, Showtime, Time’s Up, the National Film Board of Canada and many more.

Maïa still lives in Montreal and works from her colorful and bright downtown studio which she shares with her partner and fellow illustrator. Visit her website here!