We’re very excited about it, since it is not only a book that portrays women and girls in a positive way to children from an early age, but also promotes literacy by teaching the alphabet and building a larger vocabulary!
In case you’re some kind of cave person that just thawed out of a glacier due to climate change, and haven’t been mainlining the news every day via social media, guess what! We’re in the midst of ramping up to a VERY IMPORTANT election. Most people are bitterly choosing sides, and arguing with friends, family members and strangers over two to four people: Clinton, Trump, and to a lesser but still very important extent, Johnson and Stein. Terrible things are being said and done, hate groups are endorsing candidates, people are realizing they have no actual idea what qualifies a candidate for the presidency. Basically, it’s bananas. In fact, its banana daiquiris, because, goddamn, who can get through this business without a drink? And whether you’re a jilted Bernie supporter, or some dude who lives in a Confederate Flag-festooned cabin in the Appalachian Mountains, you should care. However, this article isn’t about the Presidential election. We’ve been blasted nonstop for what feels like a life-time about the options for president. There are only 40 days left until the election, and most people have made up their mind about who they are picking for president.
March is Women’s History Month. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few examples of women throughout history who have made a difference to us all. Women who have made a difference to the environment, women who made a difference to social justice, who made a difference in science or medicine, women who have been great leaders of their countries, who were great explorers. I could just start a list of names: Rachel Carson, Erin Brockovich, Dorothea Dix, Dorothea Lang, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Jeanne Baré, Maria Theresa, Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and Sacajawea.
However, Women’s History Month is more than that. It is educating ourselves, and young people who are still in school, who will soon enough be growing up to make choices about the world we live in, to know about the importance of women, the sacrifices the women before have made so that we all could have everything we have, and at its most basic level, the fundamental understanding that people, no matter their gender, are equal.
Does this mean that the things that men have created or brought about are less good? Of course not. But in a society that still, sadly values women, on average, 77% less, it is good to make the effort to shine a light on the equally valuable efforts that women have made throughout history.
So from Anne Frank to Zenobia, let’s learn about, celebrate, teach about, and appreciate women all year, and not just during Women’s History Month!
Virunga National Park is in the East Congo, and is a very dangerous place, for people and animals. It is one of the few places that gorillas and other endangered animals still remain in the wild. However, because of the terrain and the proximity from human habitations, it is an ideal location for not just poachers, but rebel military forces and other dangerous criminals looking for a place to hide. It is the oldest national park in the entire continent of Africa. Historically the job of Park Ranger to Virunga has been an only male job. Women were not allowed to be Park Rangers.
However, in 2014 four women passed the very difficult tests to become the first female Virunga National Park Rangers. Kisamya became the first female section commander, and she and her team of women protected the gorillas, tourists, and the Park from danger.
Since then ten more women have passed the exams, and successfullyy passed training with Belgian Commandos to learn battle field tactics and and extreme survival skills to use against groups from illegal loggers to anti-government groups.
The woman I painted represents these women, although she is caring for a rhino instead of a gorilla. She represents women who care about nature and animals and choose to take that out into the field, even though the field may be dangerous. The picture also shows Indigenous Women caring for and protecting animals that live in their area, and achieving more autonomy over their homes. Another woman I thought of as I painted R is for Ranger, was Kinessa Johnson, a former US Army veteran, who after her time in Afghanistan joined a program called Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), which trains other people, like Kisamya. So Kinessa uses her skills and teaches Kisamya to protect the animals.
It just goes to show, when we work together we can accomplish great things!
Many of the women portrayed in “ABC’s Like A Girl” are based on real life role models that kids can look up to. A few weeks ago I came across the story of these two fantastic women, who I illustrated as an amalgam of one woman, a zoologist, caring for otters. In real life, both of these women do in fact work with otters at the Seattle Aquarium. They were part of a touching, and fascinating story involving a young sea otter named Mishka.
Mishka was having trouble breathing after wildfire smoke spread from the Eastern part of the state, into the area where she was living in the aquarium. Dr. Lahner, who is the staff veterinarian at the Seattle Aquarium was able to run tests on Mishka, and diagnose her with asthma. Read More
Recently, I took a trip to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. While I was there, I took a little break from working on the ABC Girls book. But, as with any project I get into, I couldn’t get it out of my brain. I thought about it a lot while I was there. I like to talk to people while I’m on vacation, even if I don’t speak the language perfectly, and I ended up in conversations with lots of people. Many of them asked what I did in the US. I told them I write and illustrate children’s books. Often, this would lead to more questions. What kind of pictures? What kind of children’s books? Read More