When we were approached with the opportunity to talk about Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World here at WWAC, my response was a resounding YES after seeing the incredible lineup of creators and subjects involved:
Junko Tabei by MariNaomi (Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories)
Frida Kahlo by Naomi Franquiz (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl)
Maya Angelou by Shauna J. Grant (Princess Love Pon)
Kate Warne by Molly Brooks (Sanity & Tallulah)
Mary Shelley by Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing is Monsters)
Hallie Daggett by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me)
Josephine Baker by Alitha E. Martinez (Black Panther: World of Wakanda)
Emily Warren Roebling by Kiku Hughes (Displacement)
Madam C. J. Walker by K. L. Ricks (Naima)
Annie Londonderry by Kat Leyh (Lumberjanes)
Maria Tallchief by Weshoyot Alvitre (Alice Sixkiller)
Julia Child by Lucy Knisley (Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos)
Hedy Lamarr by Sarah Winifred Searle (Sincerely, Harriet)
Jeanne Baret by Lucy Bellwood (Baggywrinkles: a Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea)
Wangari Maathai by Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!)
Raye Montague by Yao Xiao (Everything Is Beautiful, And I’m Not Afraid)
Eleanor Roosevelt by Emily Flake (Lulu Eightball)
Bessie Coleman by Shannon Wright (Betty Before X)
Ida Lewis by Rebecca Mock (Compass South)
Rosa Parks by Ashley A. Woods (Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade)
Eugenie Clark by Maris Wicks (Primates)
Mary Anning by Little Corvus (The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York)
Caroline Herschel by Chan Chau (Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Sirens)
Nelly Bly by Jackie Roche (Escape from Syria)
Mother Jones by Sophie Goldstein (House of Women)
Noisemakers is the first book from Kazoo, a kids magazine that’s already made history in 2016 as the highest-funded journalism campaign on Kickstarter. Kazoo made noise again in 2019 as the first kids’ magazine to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.
The goal of the magazine is to “celebrate girls for being smart, strong, fierce and true to themselves,” explains Editor-in-Chief and founder Erin Bried. Boasting contributors that include Misty Copeland, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shonda Rhimes, Dolores Huerta, and so many more, Kazoo magazine shows young girls that the world belongs to them if they work hard for their dreams, even and especially in the face of adversity. Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World is the next big step in Kazoo’s journey to keep sharing that message and empowering young girls.
After reading up on Kazoo and Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World, pre-ordering the book for myself, and convincing several of my colleagues and friends to do the same, I settled down to ask Bried a few more questions about this project.
How did Knopf come up with the idea for this book?
In 2016, I launched a kickstarter for Kazoo, because I wanted to start a new kind of magazine for girls, one that celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and true to themselves. I wanted to see if there was an audience who was as passionate as I was about it. At the end of 30 days, we’d closed as the highest funded journalism campaign in crowdfunding history. An editor at Knopf noticed all the attention we were getting and loved what we were doing and before our first issue was even in print, she reached out to say that if we ever want to do a book, get in touch.
In every issue, we run a 6-page True Tale comic, and it just made sense to make those our first book. So, some of the comics in Noisemakers have already run in our magazine, but most are brand new.
Are there other books planned for the future?
Yes! We have a two-book deal with Knopf, and Noisemakers is the first. I have so many other book ideas after those too. Noisemakers is just the beginning!
How did you come up with the incredible roster of creatives?
I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with all of these incredible artists. They are all such talented, creative, visionary storytellers, and I cannot say enough good things about them. And they bring so much heart to this book—and a second layer of inspiration. Our young readers not only learn about all these amazing women throughout history, but they also get to know 25 equally amazing and inspiring women and nonbinary artists. That is just as powerful!
As magazines go, Kazoo is pretty tiny. But when people learn about us and what we’re trying to do, they almost always ask how they can help. That goes for artists, as well as other contributors. Not only have we worked with the likes of Alison Bechdel and Emil Ferris, but we’ve also done stories with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren, Shonda Rhimes, Margaret Atwood, Misty Copeland. What I’ve discovered is that truly powerful women who’ve opened doors always take the time to hold it open for those coming after them. In that respect, Kazoo is not just a magazine, and Noisemakers is not just a book. We’re a community of folks working to change the world.
How were they paired with the subjects? Were they able to choose or recommend themselves?
So many of the pairings just made sense: Mary Shelley and Emil Ferris, who wrote the amazing, must-read book My Favorite Thing is Monsters; Julia Child and Lucy Knisley, who wrote Relish: My Life in the Kitchen; Kat Leyh, who rides her bike all over Chicago, and Annie Londonderry, who rode her bike around the world; Lucy Bellwood, who sails tall ships, and Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe; Maris Wicks, who draws incredible science comics and also scuba dives all over the world, and Eugenie Clark. When an artist has a personal connection to and deep understanding of a subject, she brings such heart to the page and art.
For some of the pairings, the artist was learning about the subject of her comic for the first time, and I paired them because I thought their art style would really reflect the energy of the Noisemaker. These artists learned stories they’d never been taught before, and it was really fun to see them get so excited. As Molly Brooks, who illustrated Kate Warne’s story, said, “The only thing better than an amazing story is an amazing true story, and to me, Kate Warne’s story reminded me that the actions of just one person really can change history.”
This is an incredible book that deserves to be in the hands of as many young girls as possible. In what ways are you working to spread the word (ie libraries etc)?
Remember how I said Kazoo is tiny? I mean it. Though I don’t create the magazine alone, we have a full-time staff of one. (Uh, that’s me. Hi!) So far, word of mouth has allowed us to grow; we now have readers in 44 countries. And we’re so grateful to people like you, who cover us and help spread the word. It’d be my dream to have a copy of Noisemakers, and a subscription to Kazoo, in every library and classroom nationwide. But it’s always one step at a time. I’m just thrilled we’re moving in the right direction always.
Noisemakers is available now. If you haven’t already ordered your copy, make sure you do!