Synopses & Reviews
The adventures of eight inspiring women of the twentieth century.
Mary Gibson Henry risked her life following her passion for new botanical species. During the Civil War, Katharine Wormeley worked aboard hospital ships and helped to save the lives of many sick and wounded soldiers. With a promise and a dollar and a half, Mary McLeod Bethune opened a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1904, at a time when schools were segregated.
Award-winning author Penny Colman offers a compelling collection of true stories about eight women who were bold enough to confront obstacles and take risks in the pursuit of their goals. This is a book that celebrates the intelligence, fortitude, and courage of women.
Praise for CORPSES, COFFINS, AND CRYPTS:
An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Booklist Editors Choice
A Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books Blue Ribbon Book
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A VOYA Nonfiction Honor Book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
* “A daring and satisfying approach to a difficult subject.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “This solid, sensitive book answers a wealth of questions young people have but often are too reluctant to ask.” —Booklist, starred review
Award-winning author Penny Colman offers a compelling collection of true stories about eight women in the 20th century who were bold enough to confront obstacles and take risks in the pursuit of their goals. High school & older.
About the Author
is the author of many nonfiction books, including Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts
. She lives in Englewood, New Jersey.
Reading Group Guide
Here is how I defined adventures in my Authors Note: “Adventures are about being bold, about defying set ways of thinking and behaving, about taking risks, going beyond the boundaries, the limitations, about overcoming obstacles, about daring to be different.” Do you agree with my definition? Disagree? Why?
The eight adventurous women I wrote about are just a small sample of countless other adventurous women. Make your own list of adventurous women from the past or from today. Discuss your choices.
I wrote each chapter as an essay about a particular woman and her adventures, not as a comprehensive biography. Select the woman, or women, you would like to learn more about. Discuss your selection(s).
By the standards of their times, how were the eight women conventional? How were they unconventional? How do you view yourself—conventional, unconventional, or a mix?
What life lessons did you learn from these eight adventurous women? Discuss what you learned.
CHAPTER-BY- CHAPTER QUESTIONS
Louise Boyd, Arctic Explorer
Although Louise Boyd was full of confidence about her ability to organize an expedition and to deal with the demands and dangers of the Arctic, she initially had doubts about whether or not she was “suited for leadership, particularly with a group of men.” Why do you think she had those doubts? Several years after she expressed her doubts, Boyd told a reporter: “As for the men, most of them go back with me each voyage. We get along fine.” Why do you think she no longer expressed any doubts?
What appeals to you about Boyds adventures? What doesnt appeal to you?
Mary Gibson Henry, Botanist and Plant Hunter
Mary Gibson Henry went on her first adventure in northern British Columbia with her husband and children, and on her subsequent adventures with her daughter Josephine. If you were going on a similar adventure, whom, if anyone, would you take?
“As for the flowers,” Henry once wrote, “although many and many a time I risked my life for them, the flowers have done far more for me than I have done for them.” Would you make a similar statement about something in your life? Discuss your answer.
Juana Briones, Entrepreneur and Family Head
Juana Briones lived during a time when it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to do what she had to do, but she did it anyhow. Could a similar statement be written about you or any of your female ancestors, or, for that matter, your male ancestors? Discuss your answer.
What do you think about the way Briones handled the situation with her husband and provided for her family?
Alice Hamilton, Scientist and Industrial Toxicologist
Why do you think I chose “Supersleuth” as the subtitle for this chapter? Propose other possible subtitles (an exercise you can do with all the chapters) and explain your suggestions.
If Alice Hamilton were alive today, what would you want her to investigate? Why?
Mary McLeod Bethune, Educator and Humanitarian
Mary McLeod Bethune started a school. If you were going to start something, what would it be? How would you begin?
In “My Last Will and Testament,” Bethune listed nine “principles” (pp. 104-105). What are your principles?
Katharine Wormeley, Civil War Superintendent on a Hospital Transport Ship
Could you imagine yourself serving alongside Katharine Wormeley? Discuss your answer.
In her letters, Wormeley described many scenes and incidents that evoked emotions in me. Identify and discuss passages that evoked emotions in you.
Biddy Mason, Former Slave, Midwife, Landowner, and Church Founder
Biddy Masons favorite saying was: “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come from it. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives”? Do you agree with this saying? What favorite sayings do you or your family and friends have?
Do you support the building of public memorials to historical people, such as the Biddy Mason Memorial in Los Angeles? Discuss your answer.
Peggy Hull, Journalist and War Correspondent
Peggy Hull covered war before the sights and sounds of bombings and battles were widely broadcast on the radio and television. How do you think that affected her writing?
In the words of one soldier, Hull “made them know they werent forgotten.” What other roles do war reporters perform? Do you think these roles are important?