September 19, 2016
Around America to Win the Vote by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
When Alice Burke and Nell Richardson set off to drive around America, they were doing it to draw attention to a cause. They wanted women to have the vote.
No one had driven 10,000 miles before — no man and no woman either. They hoped that by doing what no one had done before that they would show people that women could do more than anyone believed possible.
They set off on April 6, 1916 from New York City. They drove a runabout, a small car built by the Saxon Motor Car Company. Cars were quite popular but they weren’t used for long distance travel. You still have to buy gasoline at country stores or farms. The roads had yet to be mapped so the pair had to rely on instructions published in the “Blue Book.” Unfortunately, these instructions might no longer be accurate if a barn had been painted a new color.
Alice and Nell drove all day, every day, pausing to give speeches and attend events such as parties and picnics. They even won a medal at the World’s Fair in California because they had traveled farther than anyone else to get there.
It wasn’t until 1920 that women across the United States would win the right to vote. Until that happened, women like Alice and Nell worked to draw attention and earn the vote. These women were called Suffragists.
Hadley Hooper’s illustrations started out as drawings and then were recreated using print making techniques. Digital scans of these prints were colored but the images still have an old-time feel appropriate for the story.
Although this picture book wouldn’t hold the interest of preschoolers, early grade schoolers would latch onto the travel aspect. They’ll also spend some time looking for the kitten in every illustration. Expect the book to spark discussions on how the women worked to draw attention and what the young book lovers would do in their place.