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Calling all Rebel Girls: 8 questions with author Francesca Cavallo


Francesca Cavallo, co-author of the popular book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, sat down for an interview with 9-year-old Maddie Caballero following a book signing at Building Block Toys in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Volume 2 will be released in November.

Q: What inspired you to write Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls?

Cavallo: My experiences as a female entrepreneur. My co-author, Elena Favilli, and I have a children’s media company. Many times women in general have difficulty as entrepreneurs, either securing funding or fighting stereotypes that make it harder to build your company or get a job you want. We want to help the girls that come after us.

Q: Who was your personal favorite woman from the book? Why?

Cavallo: I don’t know if I can name a favorite, because there is a little piece of me in each story. The book is great because it has 100 stories and so many fields to explore. If I had to name one, it would be Lella Lombardi, the Italian race car driver, because she learned how to drive by delivering steaks and salami in her father’s truck. She’s the only woman who ever scored points in a Formula One race, and that record still stands.

Q: When you were younger, was your dream career to be an author?

Cavallo: No, I wanted to be a police dog or be a bus driver! I never had a particular thing I wanted to do. I’ve had a career as a theater director, I have a theater company. I decided to try this because it is exciting. It’s about seeing what life throws at you.

Q: How did you choose the women in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls?

Cavallo: My co-author, Elena Favilli, and I wanted the women to be from a variety of fields: Judges, trombonists, tennis players, and be from as many countries as possible. They had to have a personal story that was interesting for kids, like Coco Chanel using scrap materials from nuns’ clothing to sew clothes with. We thought that was insanely cool. We also wanted to feature women from around the world, because it’s easier to be exposed to great women from the United States than it is to women from other countries.

Q: When writing the book, what were your resources?

Cavallo: Elena Favilli is a journalist, so we used her background to help with the research. We did a lot of research from newspapers, and from books. We also reached out to women who are still alive to confirm the details we couldn’t find.

Q: What are the characteristics of a rebel girl?

Cavallo: We tried to show everyone there is not one way to be a rebel girl. There are thousands of ways – there’s not a recipe. No matter who you are or the circumstances around you, you can cultivate your freedom of expression, trust your instincts and respect yourself.

Q: What advice would you give to young girls who want to be a rebel?

Cavallo: I would tell them to learn how to listen to their instincts: Do I like this? Do I not like this? To be a rebel, you have to understand what is really important to you and decide what impact you want to make in the world.

Q: If you could meet one of the women you wrote about, who would it be and why?

Cavallo: I would like to meet all of them! I think out of the present-day ones, I would like to meet Serena Williams. Out of the ones from the past, I would like to meet Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh.

Written by Maddie’s mom, Carrie Rodovich Caballero, a frequent Chicago Parent contributor.

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