> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 2 April 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143771609
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $36.99

Go Girl

A storybook of epic NZ women


Formats & editions


A stunning illustrated storybook for the girls of New Zealand with a powerful can-do message!

GO GIRL is a collection of true stories about New Zealand women who have done extraordinary things.

They strove for their goals.

They weren’t afraid to step up or speak out.

They blazed a trail for others to follow.

This book was written to show that YOU can join them!


Just some of the amazing women whose stories you will find in this book are Dame Whina Cooper, Janet Frame, Farah Palmer, Lucy Lawless, Kate Sheppard, Nancy Wake, Sophie Pascoe, Margaret Mahy, Lydia Ko, Merata Mita, Lorde, Rita Angus, Te Puea Herangi — and many more.

Their stories are accompanied by gorgeous portraits specially created for this book by a selection of New Zealand's best-known illustrators, Ali Teo, Fifi Colston, Helen Taylor, Phoebe Morris, Rebecca ter Borg, Sarah Laing, Sarah Wilkins, Sophie Watson and Vasanti Unka.

This is a book that should be on the beside table of every Kiwi girl, from age seven to one hundred and seven.

  • Pub date: 2 April 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143771609
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $36.99

About the Author

Barbara Else

Barbara Else is an acclaimed writer and editor whose writing is distinguished by its acerbic wit and sharp observation and is often concerned with ‘bringing women out of the shadows’. In a career spanning three decades, she has written plays, short stories, novels for adults, children’s novels and a non-fiction work, and has edited collections of stories for children. She has held a number of fellowships and residencies: the Victoria University of Wellington’s Writer’s Fellowship 1999; the Creative New Zealand Scholarship in Letters 2004 and the University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence 2016. She was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005. Through her work as a literary agent and assessor, she has discovered and mentored a number of emerging New Zealand writers, many of whom are now award-winning writers in their own right, and she was instrumental in setting up the New Zealand Association of Literary Agents and New Zealand Association of Manuscript Assessors. She has won multiple awards in New Zealand for her children’s books, including Storylines Notable Book Awards, Honour Awards and the Esther Glen Medal, and has been internationally recognised at Bologna with a White Raven. In 2016 Barbara received the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal in recognition of her services to children’s literature.

Also by Barbara Else

See all

Praise for Go Girl

“I have found this book so inspiring as a woman, and through reading it to my children I have felt inspired by it as a mother. My sons have had a completely different, just as inspiring, take on it. Your child will too.”

Emily Writes, The Sapling

“In the wake of the US publication Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, profiling heroic women, comes our own no less inspiring and considerably more relatable version. The subjects of this anthology of role models’ life stories range – alphabetically – from “Ahumai Te Paerata: Warrior” to “Yvette Williams: Athlete”, via singers, writers, sportspeople, scientists and a spy, Nancy Wake. There’s a satisfying balance between historical figures and living paragons...Else’s text is complemented by the work of nine illustrators – all women – whose differing styles provide variety and another reminder of an area in which there is no shortage of excellent local exemplars...The book is specifically aimed at girls, but it would be a useful gift for boys, to help them realise they’re not the only ones who can do cool stuff.”

Paul Little, North and South

“[This] new storybook for girls has a powerful message and there's not a shred of pink in sight.”

Kim Dungey, Otago Daily Times

“A book like this shows that girls can do anything. We can speak out and we can invent and we can be daring and we can be strong. ...This book fills me with hope for a better world. ...This book is a sumptuous, eye catching, heart warming, brain boosting, muscle strengthening, feet leaping TREAT!”

Paula Green, Poetry Box

“Else has a knack for pulling out details about our ‘‘epic women’’ that both humanise them and make them endearing; Helen Clark’s battered black suitcase found abandoned when she took her office; Georgina Beyer’s ceremonial burning of her male clothing; Ahumai Te Paerata’s silent life-saving protest. She includes little snippets of the woman’s voice, a defiant ‘‘Oh really?’’ from runner Lisa Tamati, a querying ‘‘What if…?’’ from Dame Suzie Moncrief. This, along with their arrangement (alphabetically by first name), encourages a sense of personal connection, of knowing them. Of course, we do know them many of them, but we should know more. The book crosses boundaries of occupations and ages, the women depicted come from many time periods and many stages of life. There is someone recognisable, or aspirational, for every reader. The illustrations spring from the page, created by [nine] talented female Kiwi artists. My daughters’ little fingers trail across the page and they choose stories based on images of women in action; running, swimming, holding bows, microphones and medals.”

Laura Borrowdale, Manawatu Standard

“The stories are short, but enough to encourage further investigation of their subjects. I’m sure that most parents will learn something new while reading this to their children.”

Diane McCarthy, Eastern Bay Life

“a fantastic way to introduce girls (and everyone else) to the everyday Kiwi heroines who may not be recognised as such in a mainstream context. In many cases they overcame disability, racial and sexual prejudice to make their mark.”

NZ Doctor

“The beautifully written little biographies focus on just some of the aspects of these trailblazers' lives and each is accompanied by a distinctive portrait drawn by a number of gifted New Zealand illustrators. These stories affirm that old-fashioned stereotypes can be broken - boys can be ballet dancers and girls can speak out. Delightful to read aloud, these luscious keepsakes will motivate young Kiwis aged 5-10 to go for their dreams.”

Ruth McIntyre, Australian Women's Weekly

“This stunning collection of life-stories, with gorgeous paintings by New Zealand artists, is both a celebration and an inspiration for women ages 9-90.”

Carole Beu, Ponsonby News


Awards & Recognition

  • NZ Heritage Book Awards

    Shortlisted • 2018 • Heritage Book Awards and Writing Competition

  • Storylines Notable Non-fiction Award

    Awarded • 2019 • A Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book

  • New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

    Finalist • 2019 • Best Non-Fiction Book


Related titles