The opening sentence of Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World invites the reader to “take a deep breath, open your mouth, and say your name.” Say it louder, repeat it. When you say your name out loud, know that you are a Noisemaker just like the Noisemakers you are going to discover in the pages ahead.
This call to self-identification and action is the central theme of this anthology published by Kazoo Magazine, a quarterly magazine for girls ages 5-12 featuring “science, art, comics, games, and inspiration.” In her introduction, Kazoo’s editor-in-chief Erin Bried outlines the goal of both the magazine and Noisemakers: to inspire young girls “to be strong, smart, fierce and, above all, true to themselves.” And, of course, to make some noise about it along the way.
Noisemakers is a collection of stories about 25 notable women told through the artwork of 25 female and non-binary cartoonists. The intended demographic is clearly the early teen crowd, but there is plenty here to interest an older audience. In addition to the entertaining introductions to fascinating women, the engaging and diverse artwork on offer in this anthology should serve as a welcome calling card to readers of all ages.
In presenting these stories, Noisemakers never loses sight of its mission to connect the reader with the women found in its pages. Every story is headed by an invitation to “count all the things you have in common” with its subject. This serves as a repeated lesson to the reader that we share many of the qualities, interests, and ideals that helped these extraordinary women achieve such great things.
Noisemakers is organized into six sections that provide the foundation for a wonderfully diverse portfolio of inspiring women. Each section offers a selection of scientists, inventors, athletes, artists, activists, and explorers who have had profound impact on our world. The book places equal importance on each “category” of action. There is no need to rank these women’s contributions by order of importance. The accomplishments of an artist are on equal footing with those of a scientist or inventor. The occupational labels are treated in a similarly inclusive manner. A ballerina earns the label of athlete, a tree planter finds herself among scientists, and the creations of a chef are recognized as artwork.
This anthology provides a nice mix of subjects who are likely quite familiar to most readers (or who, at least, are frequently included in similar publications) and some who are not so well known. We have the familiar names of Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, and Maya Angelou alongside Hallie Daggett, Junko Tabei, and Wangari Waathai. I found there to be a lot of fresh, undiscovered material in Noisemakers, both in terms of its historical subjects and artwork from the contributing cartoonists.
Noisemakers introduces an equally diverse and interesting cast of cartoonists to the reader as it does its with its subject matter. The “Meet the Artists” section at the end of the book serves as the perfect springboard to find new comics, graphic novels, and artwork.
Having a different cartoonist for each story means, of course, that each story is illustrated in a unique style. This serves as a reminder to the reader that there is no standard or correct way to be a Noisemaker. It is also apparent that great care was taken in pairing up artists with subjects who were personally appealing to them and with whom they frequently shared common ethnicity, identities, and experiences. So, we are treated to Weshoyot Alvitre, an indigneous Tongve artist, illustrating a story about Maria Tallchief, a ballerina and Native American from the Osage Nation. Lucy Knisley, an author of several graphic novels about her love of food and experiences growing up with her mother who was a chef, gives us her take on the life of world-renowned chef Julia Child.
Throughout the pages of this anthology, we are reminded that these stories, and the way they are told, MATTER. It is vital that these groundbreaking women are not lost to history. We learn to recognize our own unique voice by hearing the voices of those who have come before us. We discover what we want to say and how we want to say it through the diversity of the storytellers we are exposed to. We find the courage to shout our message loudly by witnessing the bravery of the
Noisemakers among these pages.
Say your name. Say it again and again, louder and louder. Your story matters.
Creative Team: Various
Publisher: Kazoo Magazine
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