Review: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone

who says women cant be doctors

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Back in the 1830s, there were no women doctors, only men could have that career.  But also growing up in the 1830s was a young girl who would end up changing that.  Elizabeth Blackwell was not particularly well behaved: she was always exploring, working to toughen herself up, and even carried her brother over her head until he backed down.  Elizabeth had not dreamed of becoming a doctor, but she was inspired when an friend mentioned how much nicer it would have been to be examined by a woman.  When Elizabeth started talking about her new dream, people mocked her and told her it was impossible.  She applied to school after school, until finally the 29th school she applied for said yes!  But Elizabeth would have to face additional challenges in school and beyond as well.  This is the story of a woman who would not take no for an answer and the way that she changed the face of medicine along the way.

Stone has written a very engaging biography of Blackwell.  Much of the story is spent on her childhood and the challenges she faced getting into medical school.  I love the image of a spunky young girl who just wants to explore and demonstrates determination from a very young age.  She is an inspiring figure for youth, someone who discovered her dream and stood by it despite the many obstacles in her way and the mockery she endured.  Stone’s author’s note continues Blackwell’s story and offers a photograph of the real Dr. Blackwell.

Priceman’s illustrations done in gouache and India ink are filled with bright colors.  They bring the past to life, showing the energy of the young Elizabeth Blackwell and incorporating the vistas and buildings of the 1800s.  While they are bright and vibrant, they also serve to make sure that readers are cognizant of the period in which the book takes place.

Blackwell is a real-life heroine that young readers should be aware of.  This bright and welcoming new biography for younger readers is a welcome addition to library collections.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.

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