Monday, May 3, 2010
Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills, by Julie Cummins and illustrated by Cheryl Harness--We've all heard of the daredevils. Those crazy, thrill-addicted people who will do anything for an adreneline rush, even at the potential cost of their own lives. Over one hundred years ago, those people were almost exclusively male. Almost. Women Daredevils introduces us to fourteen performers who didn't let long skirts and petticoats hamper their adventuresome spirits. From a human cannonball to a pair of biplane wing-walkers, these women chose risk instead of sure safety. They flew through the air, went over Niagara Falls, trained tigers, and did stunts on bicycles which would have made Evel Knievel flinch. This book uses bright illustrations, some of which seem to be painted/drawn from portrait photographs, lending a historical feeling which would not have been evident with strictly action pictures. Those action pictures are more cartoony, but with a depth of emotion which leaves the reader in no doubt about the danger these women were in. The text doesn't shy away from the danger, either, pointing out the various injuries sustained by many of the women. None of them let injury or fear stop her. As Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick said, "Ha! I don't call it pluck. I call it joy. There's no real fun except far up in the air."