Send a Girl!: The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY
Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published March 9, 2021
About Send a Girl!
Brenda Berkman was often told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl. When she grew up, she longed for a job that was challenging, different every day, and required physical and mental strength. In 1977 when the New York City Fire Department finally complied with the Civil Rights Act (from 1964) by allowing women to take the FDNY exam, Brenda jumped at the chance.
But the FDNY changed the rules of the exam so women wouldn’t be able to pass it. Even a lot of men couldn’t pass this new exam.
So Brenda Berkman took the FDNY to court. In 1982, they finally made a fair test, and Brenda and 41 other women passed. Brenda went on to serve in the FDNY for 25 years, reaching the positions of Lieutenant and Captain, and was a first responder during the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11. After her retirement, Brenda founded the United Women Firefighters, an organization that helps train and prepare women to be firefighters. Send a Girl! is Brenda Berkman’s inspiring story.
I’m really excited to see this particular story– about Brenda Berkman, and how women joined the FDNY– coming to shelves in a way that young readers can enjoy.
The pictures are expressive and bright, really adding depth to the words on each page. I like how expressive the faces of the characters are, too.
The story is pretty simple and straightforward, hitting the perfect high notes of Brenda’s youth and her career as a firefighter. It feels powerful and triumphant.
I also like that it doesn’t end with Brenda Berkman successfully becoming a firefighter, but that the story also discusses discrimination against female firefighters in an open but not defeated way.
This book would make a great addition to a classroom or library, and seems like it’d be especially useful in talking with students or kids about community and careers.
Recommended for Ages 6 to 10.
The story focuses on Brenda Berkman, a white woman and includes references to discrimination that she and others faced as women on the job as firefighters.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some scenes show people being rescued from fires. Some references to 9/11. It’s a pretty brief mention, told appropriately for younger readers.
Also some mention of discrimination the Brenda and other women faced as firefighters. It’s mentioned that some of the pranks against them were dangerous, but no details are given.
Note: I received a free copy of Send a Girl! in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.