While we have read plenty of worthy anthologies in recent years, perhaps none feel quite as complete and accomplished as Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World. This collection of profiles of historically important women originally appeared i the pages of Kazoo magazine and have been picked for helping to shape the modern work in their own unique way – by making a noise!
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
Price: £19.83 from Amazon
Noisemakers compiles 25 profiles of historically significant women that previously appeared in the pages of Kazoo Magazine – a critically acclaimed quarterly magazine aimed at 5-12 year old girls. The profiles are split into four sections – Grow, Tinker, Play, Create, Rally and Explore – and the women range from high profile familiar names like Rosa Parks, Mary Shelley, Josephine Baker and Eleanor Roosevelt, to some more obscure choices like aviator Bettie Coleman or Rabble-Rouser Mother Jones. However what is nice is that even though there are plenty of familiar names on here, each creator take s different approach to their profiles and so you find yourself learning about the individual from a different perspective or about a different part of their life (for example Josephine Baker’s past as a spy or Eleanor Roosevelt’s work on human rights).
With each profile running at just a few pages it’s a fantastic snapshot of each personality. There is just enough detail that you get an idea of who the woman is as well as her historical importance, but not so much that you quite over whelmed. They also add a nice touch on the intro page for which features a breakdown of what the readers might have in common with the ‘noise maker’ – e.g. things they both like, or places they might both have been. It’s a great way to engage the younger readers, and also adds depth to the story without having to rely on exposition in the actual comic pages.
The only downside to this structure is that some of the stories can feel a bit lightweight. When you find a story you get particularly engaged with, then they can often be over before you get started. However that is probably what further reading is for. If the stories were any longer they would potentially over stay their welcome, especially for younger readers, or those which the reader might not be as engaged with. However. Because they are short and punchy you find yourself reading everything, even the ones you might not have heard of, and as such you can dip in quickly and ultimately end up learning more as a result.
As you would expect with such a wide range of fantastic artists onboard, Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World looks amazing. The artists are a mix of well known names like Rosemary Valero-O’Connell or Lucy Bellwood, but a lot of the artists were unknown to us and so it was a great chance to get to explore some new creators work. The quality of work throughout is exceptional. The styles range from quirky and cartoony (Marie Wicks) to super stylish (Little Corvus or Chan Chou) through to minimalist strips like MariNaomi’s, or Emil Ferris’s incredible story about Mary Shelley which looks like it has been rendered using biros in a spiral bound notepad. The styles, while different all seem to mesh, and while some are stylistically similar they all have their own approach and voice, meaning that each profile feels unique and different to the last. It’s one of those anthologies which is so diverse you find yourself unable to critique the art as the collage feel is what makes the thing work as a whole. It is also tied together by some gorgeous chapter pages, which help stitch the thing together – would you expect anything less from a magazine publisher – but they manage to brilliantly bring together the different elements of the stories into a very satisfying collection.
We hope that Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World will be picked up by a wider audience as it definitely feels like the kind of important book which should be read by all aspiring young girls. It is smart without being elitist, educational without being boring and beautiful to look at, but without ever feeling superfluous or insubstantial. This is the kind of book all young girls should be reading and being inspired by as it is a fantastic showcase of what they can achieve with the lives if they choose to make a bit of noise!