Book Review: ‘Around America to Win the Vote’
100 years ago this coming June 4, the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote passed the U.S. Congress. It took over a year – to August 1920 – for the final state to ratify the amendment and make it into law. While we celebrate the centennial of woman’s suffrage, it’s important to share the story with the smallest among us. A perfect way to start the conversation is with Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles, written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Hadley Hooper.
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Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
by Mara Rockliff and Hadley Hooper
Product Details: Hardcover or paperback, 40 pages
Retail Price: $16.99 hardcover, $7.99 paperback
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Summary and Review
This cute picture book follows Nell Richardson, Alice Burke, and a tiny black kitten as they took a historic cross-country road trip in 1916 to promote the cause of women’s suffrage. Over five months, this relentless trio traveled through blizzards, break-downs, and a rain of flying bullets in their yellow car to convince crowds that women deserved the vote. That might not sound like a big deal to us today, but you have to remember that this was before the interstate system and GPS. Burke and Richardson were lucky if the roads were paved at all, and they were constantly using paper maps to find their way. When I read the book, I felt part of the adventure, and when the women successfully returned to New York at the end of their journey, I felt like finding myself a celebratory piece of yellow cake (the one they enjoyed in the book looked so good).
When I first picked up this picture book I knew it was coming home with me. The illustrations for this lesser-known piece of history reminded me of Ludwig Bemelman’s drawings in the Madeline series. They were whimsical yet realistic, and it was a fun quest to find the tiny black kitten on each page. The prose was cute without diluting the real story, and the copy I have includes in-depth information in the back to educate older readers about Burke and Richardson.
Honestly, it should come as no surprise to people who know me that I, a feminist with a black cat, loved the book featuring feminists and a black cat. To make sure I wasn’t completely biased, I gave it to my aunt and her grandchild to read. The little member of our family just turned four years old, so some of the longer bits of text were boring for her, but she enjoyed it being read to her, pointing out the cat on each page, and asking a lot of questions about the trip. The slight boredom isn’t a mark against the book, since the publisher officially recommends it for children 5-8 years old.
As the celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage starts, consider sharing more stories about the long campaign for the vote with smaller members of your family. Around America to Win the Vote is a great place to start!
A Dayton native, Rebecca got her start blogging at the curiously named Harlac’s Tongue while studying abroad in the UK. She loves tooling around town with her Ford Focus named Jerome to the song they’re playing on the radio. On any given weekend, you can find her with her camera at area festivals, concerts, and car shows, shopping at flea markets, or taking an adventure on the open road. See more articles by Rebecca.