Area author pens coloring, book on amazing American women

JODI SPIEGEL ARTHUR


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CAROL SIMON LEVIN

As the Democratic National Convention approached last summer, with the party on the verge of nominating its first female candidate for president, children’s librarian, author and historical impersonator Carol Simon Levin worked to hasten the release of her combination coloring and history book on “Amazing American Women.”

She shelved her work on a book on Emily Roebling – considered the first woman mechanical engineer – with the goal of getting “Remembering the Ladies: From Patriots in Petticoats to Presidential Candidates” published prior to the Nov. 8 election.

The book about “courageous and tenacious women: founding mothers, abolitionists, suffragists, feminists, labor and civil rights leaders, and pioneering female politicians” was published Sept. 28. A revised and expanded second edition was recently released.

“It occurred to me, we were at a historic moment,” the Bedminster, N.J., resident said. “I realized there was a huge story to be told because so many people take the right to vote for granted … It’s astonishing to think (suffragettes) worked for more years than we’ve had it.”

Designed for those ages 8 to 108, the first edition includes 64 major profiles plus other related ones. The second edition includes five additional women.

For each woman, there is a one-page profile, a “fascinating fact,” a quotation and suggestions for further reading and places to visit to learn more about that woman, as well as an illustration ready for coloring by older children and adults.
Many of the women are well-known, while others are “unsung heroines.”

They include Dolley Madison, Sacagawea, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, Nellie Bly, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Sandra Day O’Connor, Madeleine Albright, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The book’s title comes from Abigail Adams, who wrote to her husband, John Adams, at the Continental Congress in 1776, telling him to “remember the ladies” as they drafted new laws – a request that was ignored.

Levin said she “burned the midnight oil” researching women for her book. She said she anticipated including 40 women but continued to find many more women she didn’t want to exclude.

“I learned so much in the process,” she said. “I found so many fascinating stories going along.”

“Remembering the Ladies” includes drawings by 36 artists, found mostly by networking through channels including an art teacher; the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, of which Levin is a member; an art student; and Levin’s social media contacts.

Approximately half of the artists are from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, while the remainder hail from as far away as California and Germany. Some are professional artists, while others are hoping to break in to the publishing world.

Levin created a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $3,000 that would allow for a small honorarium for the illustrators and pay for the initial production costs, and she also asked for and found additional illustrators through the campaign.

She met and slightly exceeded her fundraising goal and self-published the book on CreateSpace. Kickstarter donations also were used to send copies of the book to area Girl Scout troops.

Levin said she has no illusions of making a profit on the book. “My goal is to get the word out about these women who spent their whole lives (working) to get the rights we take for granted,” she said.

“Remembering the Ladies” is available on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, and through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators at scbwi.org.

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