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.

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