REPRESENTATION International Women's Day


On 8th of March, it’s International Women’s Day (IWD). This is the one day of the year when the world celebrates 'the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.'* Eva Wong Nava celebrates three well-known women authors through the work of other children's writers and illustrators. 

IWD has been observed since the early 1900s. The history of women’s rights and women’s movements is not unknown. We have books for children about the suffragettes, articles galore about women’s movements and social media is replete with images of women marching in solidarity. There has never been a greater time than now, the mid-21st century, to fly the suffragette flag. International Women’s Day is important because lest we forget. Lest we forget the struggles that so many women before us have endured for more freedom, for the betterment of women’s (and children’s) lives, for the right to celebrate women’s achievements.

This IWD we celebrate Maya Angelou, Mary Shelley and Margaret Wise Brown who have left us a rich and inspiring heritage of stories. We look at their lives through the following three books by children's authors. 

cover: Tonya Engel. Book by Lee & Low Books. 

Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, and illustrated by Tonya Engel tells the story of Maya Angelou. This picture book biography celebrates the poet’s life by getting up close with Angelou’s struggles, and how through her words, Maya Angelou has inspired so many Black women writers after her. Engel’s artwork is bright, brash, and bold, reflecting the essence of Maya Angelou. 

 cover: Feliciti Sala. Book by Pisces Books. 

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lyn Fulton and illustrated by Felicita Sala gives us an insight into how Mary Shelley created Frankenstein. The narrative is atmospheric and Fulton shows Shelley’s aspiration to be a writer like her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, and her frustration for not having a good enough idea to write a horror story. And finally how she found the inspiration to create the monster, Frankenstein. Sala used a palette of green, black and brown to draw out the eeriness of the tale retold in this picture book biography. 

 cover: Sarah Jacoby. Book by BalzerBray

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby is a work of true allyship. Picture book author Mac Barnett needs no introduction. Barnett pays tribute to Wise Brown, an American children’s book author, through his whimsical prose. Jacoby's artwork reflects the whimsy of Barnett’s words. Wise Brown has done much for children’s literature in America. She is most remembered for her picture book Goodnight Moon. 

The important thing to remember on March 8th, 2022 is this years campaign theme — #BreakTheBias. As women creatives, we know how biases, whether conscious or unconscious, have affected our success and entry into the creative industries, in particularly, publishing. It wasn’t so long ago that women had a hard time getting published. Think Virginia Woolf. Not long ago, too, that women had to write under male pseudonyms (some still think they have to). Think George Elliot (think JK Rowling). And not all that long ago either that children’s literature was considered like women’s literature, not as important as books written by men for adults, unless the female author wrote books that dealt with ‘clever’ topics like politics. Think Beatrix Potter. 

The editorial team at Words & Pictures would like to take this moment to clap and cheer for the many women creatives at SCBWI British Isles. We would also like to applaud the allies amongst us who have wholeheartedly and genuinely uplifted women creatives in this community.


* Header image: by Roberta Raimondi

All book cover images:


Roberta Raimondi is an Italian freelance illustrator based in London. Her work focuses on PB to MG and aims to bring to life colourful and whimsical stories. Find her art at


Eva Wong Nava is the co-author of Tun Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali: The Accidental Doctor (World Scientific Education, 2020). This picture book biography was illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta. Eva is Events Editor at Words & Pictures. Contact her at

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