During our Black History Month challengeI discovered Bessie Coleman who was the the first black woman in the world to receive her pilot’s license. Bessie developed an interest in flying but American flying schools at the time did not accept black people or women. So she decided to save her money, learn French and move to France to achieve her goal.
Bessie is the embodiment of persistence and perseverance and the perfect woman to begin the Queen Girls book series with their release “Bessie, Queen of the Sky”.
Queen Girls is a collection of stories of real women turned into fairy tales. In addition to being captivated by the beautiful illustrations, my heart became even more full when I learned about their One for One, Book for Book initiative - each time a book is purchased another is donated to an organisation that fights illiteracy and empowers girls.
Check out the highlights of our interview with Andrea & Jimena, co-creators of Queen Girls below!
How did you 3 come together to start the Queen Girls collection?
Andrea: We are very proud of our multicultural team. Jimena (Spain) and I (USA) are sister in laws and Chiara (Italy) is a close family friend. Jimena first approached me with the idea as she started noticing the amount of stereotypes in children’s literature after having her first child. She perceived an inaccurate portrayal of women in society and a lack of empowering content for young children. As a speech therapist and a passionate traveler who has worked with children all around the world, it didn’t take me more than a minute to jump on board! We knew Chiara would be a perfect fit as she is a young artist with passion, creativity, and drive, that shares similar philosophies and values with us. This is how we all became partners in crime.
There are so many amazing women whose stories can definitely be turned into fairy tales. What is the selection process like and what made Bessie Coleman your 1st choice to start off this collection with?
Andrea: Jimena and I enjoyed choosing our first Queen. We both did some research on our own and made a list of individuals that stood out and inspired each of us. We shared those with each other and compiled one list of both our favorites to share with family and friends. Together, we chose Bessie Coleman. We liked Bessie because she was a woman ahead of her time, she was passionate, determined, and brave - all traits we’d like to teach our girls. She also adds diversity into our collection, which is important to us.
We absolutely love your One for One, Book for Book initiative. What was the inspiration behind this? Are you able to share some organisations that have received donated books so far?
Andrea: Absolutely! This is one of our favorite parts of our project. It was inspired because we want to reach as many children as possible. We thought this would be a great way to get more books into the hands of some of the children that might need it the most.We’d love to share some organizations! We have already donated over 1,500 copies to organizations in Illinois including Bernie’s Book Bank and Open Books Ltd. with the hopes of lots more to come.
What does “Pretty is your Strength. Feminine is your braveness. Powerful is your determination.” mean to you?
Jimena: I wrote this while strolling around with my son! As women, we all grow up thinking that being pretty and feminine are the best qualities to have. It’s as if our strengths are determined by what others think of us. Our society puts way too much emphasis on these external attributes that have nothing to do with reality. I wanted to twist those stereotypes around and frame them with what really makes us incredible as human beings such as strength, braveness and determination. Below the surface, we find our real value.
What is your ultimate goal with this collection?
Jimena: Our ultimate goal is to create a broad movement with the intention of empowering girls to dream big and do more! Our intention is to open this collection to like-minded individuals that want to contribute in the creation of positive content that will help move children to a place of equality. The new website will be visible soon with additional ways to join the movement!
It was my extreme pleasure this fine Sunday afternoon to discover that a movie "Flying Free with Bessie Coleman" is in the works and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be in the cinema once it’s released (with my tissues this time of course. I was a mess at Hidden Figures but let’s digress) and I can’t wait!
There is no denying that Bessie Coleman had to overcome many obstacles and challenges. Surely during that period of time some would think that her dream was essentially impossible but she never let that deter her from accomplishing her goal. Bessie was a trailblazer and paved the way and inspired countless others so it's great that her story is being told.
You can find “Bessie, Queen of the Sky” here (recommended age 4 to 7 years old).
Make sure to keep up with Queen Girls on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook (@queengirlspubl) for all the latest updates and new releases.
Find out more about Queen Girls from their kickstarter video :)