Book Review: Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took On The World by Neha J. Hiranandani and illustrated by Niloufer Wadia

Cover art by Aditi Kakade Beaufrand

Non-fiction children\’92s books that give brief biographical profiles of significant individuals have been popular for quite a few years now. There are loads of great examples of these books and Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World is a brilliant new version that focuses specifically on Indian women whose have achieved amazing things.

Telling the stories of fifty women of different ages and backgrounds, Girl Power explores the history of India from the viewpoint of women who have challenged expectations, excelled in their fields, and improved the lives of others. It is packed with the most extraordinary stories that are told in a really conversational and concise way by author Neha J. Hiranandani. From the sixteenth century warrior queen, Abbakka, to Noor Inayat Khan who was a spy for the Allied forces during the Second World War, to Poorna Malavath who scaled Everest when she was only thirteen, every biography is captivating. The pages are filled with royalty, athletes, teachers, warriors, environmentalists, judges, scientists, architects, doctors, astronauts and movie stars. This is a history of India as told through the lives of the women who lived (and still live) there. It shows the history of the country itself and portrays India\’92s countless contributions to the rest of the world. It rightly doesn\’92t shy away from the impact of British rule and includes women who rebelled against that colonialism. And it looks enthusiastically to the future; the final entry is about the work done by the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Now, I know that I shouldn\’92t judge a book by its cover, but when I opened the parcel that contained Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World, I said \’91Wow!\’92 out loud. Designed by Aditi Kakade Beaufrand, this bright, detailed and vibrant cover hints at the treasure trove that is contained behind it. Every featured person has an entire double-page spread that is divided between the text and the stunning portraits created by illustrator Niloufer Wadia. They each occupy their own place and the book is perfectly designed to be read either from cover to cover or dipped into (every page would be a wonderful and inspiring bedtime story).

What I really love about books like this is how they open the door to a world of new information that my white, Western background had previously missed. Of the fifty names in this book, I recognised only two. That\’92s pretty embarrassing. These are women whose brilliance should be known around the world and I\’92m so pleased that Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World is sharing their stories.

Girl Power: Indian Women Who Took on the World is published by Scholastic.

For more information about Neha J. Hiranandani you can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You can see more of Niloufer Wadia’s amazing artwork on Instagram. And visit Aditi Kakade Beaufrand’s Instagram to discover her stunning illustrations too.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending a review copy.

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