On a Saturday evening in late Autumn I sat with my mother in the Sydney Town Hall and saw the feminist icon Gloria Steinem talk to a sold-out crowd. She talked about her new book, Life on the Road, she talked about her activism, she answered questions on feminism from teenage girls in the audience. Seeing these young people struggling with questions of equality — their own right to equality in 2016 — brought me to tears.
When I was a kid there were no picture books about feminist icons (I didn’t even know the phrase ‘feminist icon’) so it’s pretty exciting to be able to pick up Gloria’s Voice: The Story of Gloria Steinem — Feminist, Activist, Leader by Aura Lewis, that’s not only about female strength and the fight for equality through journalism and activism, it’s also beautiful.
Aura Lewis’ uplifting watercolour illustrations in soft rainbow hues are delightful. Her pages are punctuated by beautifully realised flowers and pleasing typography.
Gloria’s Voice has a fairy tale quality, but this story book is not all flowers and rainbows. It’s a tale of sorrow, loss, growth and hope. It’s an important tale for a new generation of feminists.
I asked the kids what they think of Gloria’s Voice.
Max: It’s a very beautiful book and I think the way the story is told and the whole story itself is very inspirational for all women and feminists. I consider myself a feminist and I’m proud.
Rose: I think she uses really powerful words and I like her pictures and her words, they really go together. I like how it says what Gloria’s dreams are and I like how Aura Lewis has done the pictures. I think she planned all the words and then she wrote the book, like how it’s going to look like, so it would look good. I like how there’s perspective, like some pictures are far away, and some parts a bigger and close up and there’s more detail so you can see it better.
I like where it shows the two main characters, the mum and the daughter, but it also shows other daughters and women, and I like how they tell the mum’s dream as well as the daughter’s dream.
I like how it also tells the daughter’s feelings: Gloria, the daughter feels like she’s the mum and her mum’s the child.
I like how she’s drawn all the things and repeated them, like the typewriter. l like how she says ‘I feel like a typewriter without a ribbon.’ I like how she draws the pictures that show the feelings as well as the words. I like how she’s drawn Gloria.
I like how the magazine cover looks as a big as a wall in the book, but actually it would have been the size of a magazine cover. I like how the cover of the magazine Ms looks in the book, how it says ‘Ms’ and the cover has a picture of Wonder Woman and it’s blue. I also like how at the back of the book they tell the story about Gloria. I just really like the book in general.
Title: Gloria’s Voice: The Story of Gloria Steinem, Feminist, Activist, Leader
Author + Illustrator: Aura Lewis
Read Aura Lewis talking about her debut picture book on A Women’s Thing.