How to Be Extraordinary


Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Annabel Tempest present ‘How to Be Extraordinary’. It certainly helps if you have a cause.

Krystyna Skarbek sailed from Capetown to Southampton with the intention of joining the British Secret Service. Her achievements in WWII in Nazi occupied Poland and France are astounding, yet she remains largely unknown.

War surgeon David Nott remains largely unknown also, despite his practice. He has worked in war torn and disaster areas from Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq to Sierra Leone, Haiti and Nepal. His mission is to train medics in how to work in areas of war and natural disaster.

These two are amongst fifteen subjects selected by Rashmi Sirdeshpande. Some, like Judith Kerr or Alan Turing, are better known. Through a series of pocket sized information paragraphs, the writer explains their motivation, efforts, achievements, setbacks and legacy. Speech bubble asides suggest the subjects’ contribution. Annabel Tempest’s caricature style illustrations expand the positive message of this superb book.

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How to Be Extraordinary

Rashmi Sirdeshpande, illustrated by Annabel Tempest


It seems that we live at at a time where we might access many inspiring, biographies. It seems these extend our knowledge and appreciation of human lives and experiences. What’s more they motivate us to realise what we might do in our own lives. Therefore we are delighted to welcome How to Be Extraordinary‘ where Rashmi Sirdespande and Annabel Tempest present fifteen biographies of exceptional lives. Although there are familiar selections like Frida Kahlo and Mo Farrah, there are lesser known people featured too. These include Krystina Skarbek or David Nott.
A series of paragraphs across a double page describes each subject’s life. Thereafter  quotes and feedback in speech bubbles follow.  What’s more, Annabel Tempest’s bright, ink-lined drawings elevate the information/
Rashmi Sirdespande’s selection is contemporary, for her subjects are people in the news or those gaining the respect they deserve belatedly. Therefore, we learn of Sir David Attenborough’s influence on the Royal household.  Meanwhile, Dr Sau Lan Wu was determined to make at least three scientific discoveries. Thereafter, deforestation and poverty inspired the work of environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
 How to Be Extraordinary is a fascinating, encouraging book. While the subjects inspire us, there is sadness at their struggles and awe in their efforts. Like Children Who Changed the World, this title has the power to enrich, empower and inform. What’s more, there is more to discover and be inspired by in this duo’s collaboration, How to Change the World.


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