Making their Voices Heard by Vivian Kirkfield and illustrated by Alleanna Harris only recently arrived on the picture book scene. Though it is a story about two icon ladies known to most adults the latest generation are unlikely to have ever heard of them. This did not spoil the story however, as the books overriding theme is one of friendship.
I so enjoyed reading this book to my daughter, though I admit it would probably have suited my older boys more in terms of understanding social struggles! I have always loved being in choirs and harbored a secret wish to sing on stage so I was very excited to hear that Vivian Kirkfield had written a book about one of my idols, Ella Fitzgerald. Even better than that though was the fact that this book was not just about one inspiring lady but two! Who doesn’t love a bit of 1950’s cinema and the glamour of Marilyn Monroe? I learnt so much about the pair in such few words, for example that Marilyn was first discovered painting airplane parts in California! I learnt about their struggles, the social inequality they both faced and their fierce determination to succeed no matter what the circumstances.
Vivian Kirkfield cleverly weaves the lives of these two amazing women together, first taking us through their journeys as seperate parallel stories before bringing them together half way through the book when they first meet. Her clever structure means that the reader feels equally invested in both women’s stories and are routing for them individually, right from the outset. Kirkfield shares how despite their different plights these women find common ground and determine to help one another succeed. The story is one of ultimate success as we all know, yet that did not prevent enjoyment for my part or gaining emotional attachment to the protagonists. Kirkfield’s writing is poised, considered and I was left on a cliffhanger for many of the page turns. She writes a story filled with hope and inspiration and one that is testament to how strong a friendship two people can have no matter what their outward appearance.
I loved the illustrations in this story as well, they had a very Edward Hopper style to them, whom I love, totally routed in the time period and full of glamour and style like the leading ladies of this story.
Whilst many little children of today will not be immediately familiar with these two iconic women, I hope this book gives them a great early introduction to their music and movies and a love of it that lasts a lifetime!