Book Review – Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs

Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
By Sam Maggs, Illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: History, Biographies & Memoir, Feminism
ISBN: 978-1594749254
Source: Received From Publisher
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Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.


After reading Sam’s debut, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks, I knew I was on board to read whatever she published next, so I was excited when I learned that her next book would be Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History. Dare I say, it’s even better than her debut!

In Wonder Women, readers get a very comprehensive portrait of 25 female innovators and trailblazers and a brief overview of so many other women in the fields of science, medicine, espionage, innovation, and adventure.

Wonder Women is so informative, informal, and fun, with illustrations by Google doodler, Sophia Foster-Dimino and pop culture references sprinkled throughout to better help set the cultural scene of the times and see what these women were up against, in our own understanding. I wish I could say I knew about many of these women but the unfortunate truth is that I didn’t and that’s a shame. But now I do and now I want the world to know about them too.

This is a love letter to the unsung heroes of womanhood in history and my goodness, if you’re a history teacher, you need this book in your classroom for your students to borrow and read because it’s that good. Let this book make the rounds in your classroom, in the library, in your circle of friends. This book needs to be seen, whether you’re seven or twenty-seven. Everyone can learn more than a thing or two here.

Wonder Women is diverse, as it sheds the spotlights on women of all backgrounds (African American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, etc…) and it doesn’t end here. There’s a Q&A in each chapter, the first of which is conducted with Lynn Conway, a computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, and trans woman – during a time when transitioning was the ultimate taboo. Seeing as how that taboo is only recently in the past few years being more widely accepted than ever before, this interview was very timely and perhaps the most fascinating of all the interviews.

I loved the snark in acknowledging the blatant inequality, men so easily threatened and intimidated by someone other than them having a brain and being a radical innovator…no matter the century. Even more wonderful, no matter the century, women still found a way to prevail. Wonder Women tells the inspiring stories of these women’s accomplishments, achievements that no one should ever forget and all readers will want to discover even more about.

Wonder Women is pretty incredible. So pick up this book if you want to learn about Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Nobel Prize awarded to her male supervisor after her discovery. Pick up this book if you want to learn the name of the woman who has an element on the Periodic Table Elements named in her honor. Pick up this book if you want to not only be inspired but be aware. Wonder Women is such an important book and I hope that its success matches a fraction of the success of these women because these names need to be known. So pre-order your copy now.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs, Illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino releases October 4, 2016.