48 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 0-7787-0027-5
DDC 810.9'9287'0904




Susannah D. Ketchum is a teacher-librarian at the Bishop Strachan School
in Toronto. She also serves on the Southern Ontario Library Services


The Women in Profile series is “dedicated to every woman who followed
her dream and to every young girl who hopes to do the same.” Each book
in the series provides brief biographies of six women who were notable
in their field, as well as one-paragraph profiles of some 11 to 14
additional women. All of the women profiled have lived at least part of
their lives in the 20th century. Some names will be familiar to most
young readers (Judy Blume in Writers, Amelia Earhart in Explorers, and
Marie Curie in Nobel Prize Winners, for example). Other names are much
less well known. (Explorers is particularly rich in unusual and
fascinating characters.) Although English-speaking countries
predominate, coverage is reasonably international in most volumes. In
all, eight Canadian women appear in the series. Three (Jean Little and
L.M. Montgomery in Writers and Liona Boyd in Musicians) receive a
“full” profile.

This series has worthwhile objectives; unfortunately, the execution is
mediocre. As a result of their brevity, the profiles frequently seem
disjointed and incomplete. The writing is often banal and pedestrian.
For example, just about every woman in Political Leaders appears to have
“worked hard.” Rachel Carson, we are told in Scientists, “wrote a
story called ‘A Battle in the Clouds.’ It was published in a
magazine.” Each book includes at least two maps, but the maps are
often simplified to the point of being caricatures.

Each title also boasts a glossary and an index. Both appear haphazard.
In Scientists, for example, “algebra” and “atom” are defined but
not “anthropologist” or “rotary.” In Writers, a number of place
names are not indexed. Bibliographies, always titled “Suggested
Reading,” are reasonably useful, though the reading level of some of
the titles is far above that of the series. Scientists, for instance,
recommends Farley Mowat’s Virunga, a fascinating but fairly
challenging read.

Despite these shortcomings, the series has merit. The women profiled
are indeed “remarkable,” and they provide a rich variety of role
models. Each profile presents a manageable amount of information. As
well, the many pictures and photographs are often captioned with direct
quotations from the subjects themselves or from people who knew them,
creating a sense of intimacy with the subjects. For students, the
profiles in this series could serve as springboards to more-demanding
biographies. Recommended with reservations.


Hunter, Shaun., “Writers,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29533.