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


We are fortunate to have so many inspiring, biographies published recently. Enter ‘How to Be Extraordinary‘. Rashmi Sirdespande and Annabel Tempest have co-operated to present fifteen biographies of exceptional lives. While there are some familiar selections like Frida Kahlo and Mo Farrah, the writer suggests lesser known people like Krystina Skarbek or David Nott.
A series of paragraphs across a double page describes each subject’s life. There are quotes and feedback in speech bubbles.  Annabel Tempest’s bright, ink-lined drawings elevate the information further.
Rashmi Sirdespande’s selection is contemporary, for her subjects are people in the news or those gaining the respect they deserve belatedly. We learn of Sir David Attenborough’s influence on the Royal household.  Dr Sau Lan Wu was determined to make at least three scientific discoveries, while 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.


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