Around America to Win the Vote

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AroundAmerica

There is nothing better than a historical picture book, especially when it’s served up in a delightful slice-of-life format like author Mara Rockliff’s new picture book, Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles.

In the book, it’s April, 1916 – a presidential election year – and two rambunctious and courageous women named Nell Richardson and Alice Burke leave New York City in a little yellow runabout motor car with plans to make a 10,000-mile trip across America to hustle up support for women to be allowed to vote. They take with them those items they believe are the most crucial: a typewriter, a sewing machine, some tools and spare parts, a trunk with some “useful” things like dresses in it, and a little black kitten with a yellow ribbon around its neck.

Along the way, Nell and Alice give speeches, brave blinding blizzards, dodge bullets and attend fancy vote-raising parties. If anyone challenges them by asking why they aren’t at home doing woman’s work, they prove they have brains by typing a clever poem or sewing a fancy apron in front of anyone who wants to watch. This, they declare, proves that women can do it all; they can do woman’s work and they can do man’s work, too.

As the two friends travel, their trusty yellow car gets stuck in streams, sinks into the mud, chug-a-lugs through puddles, collects dust, and eventually brings them and the souvenirs they have collected all the way back to their starting place in New York City (September 1916).

This enchanting book about two dainty and untried women driving across America alone is a perfect example of the true spirit of American adventure. It is proof for young readers that females are not limited by their sex; they can and do accomplish the same thing (and more!) as their male counterparts. The book also offers a glimpse of the American landscape of yesteryear as well as a close-up view of the mindset of the time.

Ms. Rockliff’s prose is energetic and chock full of giggle-inspiring prose. Artist Hadley Hooper’s illustrations are a celebration of life. The smiling, sometimes awe-struck faces of the people Nell and Alice met, the curious and unspoiled beauty of the early American landscape, and the bright and hopeful yellow of the trustworthy runabout that is splashed across every over-sized page are all a feast for a picture book lover’s eyes.

Use this book to discuss American history, women’s history, courage, adventure, and the United States Constitution. Also great for any young historian’s personal library.

Best wishes and..girl power!

Rita Lorraine

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