Fall 2023

The Bodyguard Unit

Edith Garrud, Women's Suffrage, and Jujitsu

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

Who were the jujitsuffragettes?

In the early twentieth century, women in England demanded the right to vote—and faced violent retaliation. Rather than back down, the suffragist group Women’s Social and Political Union formed its own security unit. Edith Garrud, a pioneering self-defense instructor, trained them to fight back against abuse and arrest while pursuing long-overdue rights.

This graphic retelling of Garrud’s life reveals the resilience and (often physical) resistance of her era’s voting-rights activists. Featuring an introduction from Elsa Dorlin (Self-Defense: A Philosophy of Violence), The Bodyguard Unit explores an explosive stage of the fight for suffrage.

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Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: Feminism, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity, SEL: C Social Awareness, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Graphic Universe ™
Language English
Number of Pages 136
Publication Date 2023-08-01
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS YAN012020, YAN025070, YAN053070
Dewey 324.6/23092 [B]
Dimensions 8 x 10
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Timeline

Author: Clément Xavier

Clement Xavier is a writer based in France. In 2015, Xavier and illustrator Lisa Lugrin jointly received the prestigious Prix Révélation (Debut Prize) at the Angoulême International Comics Festival for their first French-language graphic novel, Yékini, le roi des arènes.

Illustrator: Lisa Lugrin

Lisa Lugrin is a comic book artist and author based in France. In 2015, Lugrin and Clement Xavier jointly received the prestigious Prix Révélation (Debut Prize) at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. She is co-founder of Na editions.

Librarian Prep Post: Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month honors both the struggle that women have faced throughout time, as well as the many important achievements women have made that haven’t always been recognized. Books can give us extra insight into influential figures and the stories of women that aren’t always… View →


  • Global Literature in Libraries Translated YA Book Prize Honoree, Commended, 2024
  • Texas Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List, Winner, 2024
  • YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens List, Winner, 2024
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year 2024, Winner, 2024
  • Excellence in Graphic Literature Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2024
  • New York Public Library Best New Comics for Adults, Winner, 2023


School Library Journal

“Captures a well-documented but lesser-known piece of history with acumen, and subtly telegraphs the still relevant experience of employing radical means in an unjust system. . . a unique and involving lens through which to consider an essential moment in modern history.” —School Library Journal

The Horn Book Magazine

“The cartooning, beautifully rendered in muted, old-timey hues, presents information about jujitsu, the inner workings and tensions of the WSPU, and everyday indignities faced by the subjects . . . While enduring themes such as resisting oppression and asserting autonomy abound, the book remains centered on its specific time, place, and people.” —The Horn Book Magazine


“This engaging and informative graphic biography, which includes historical back matter, about an overlooked yet influential suffragist and martial artist deserves a spot in every graphic-novel collection.” —starred, Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“[A]n empowering work both in content and visuals, about the figure who taught women how to take back their power.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Engaging feminist history attractively presented.” —Kirkus Reviews