Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles Book Poster Image
Two women stump for right to vote in fresh, upbeat story.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Information about the women's suffrage movement leading up to the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the vote. Names of other important suffragists. Information about life in 1916, as detailed in both the text and art: cars were open air, women wore long dresses, many people still traveled by cart and horse, there were no gas stations or maps or many paved roads. Map of the U.S.

Positive Messages

If you have a cause you're passionate about, you can work for it and see results, even amending the Constitution. It's important to stand up and fight for your civil rights.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two women are intrepid travelers and fearless in support of their cause. They drove a car when there were few roads or maps and no gas stations. They spoke out for what they believed in, delivering speeches and trying to influence others. They were media savvy, making a journey they knew would garner publicity.

Violence & Scariness

The women "dodged bullets by the Rio Grande." Picture of two men shooting rifles as women drive off in cloud of dust.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles, by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Hadley Hooper, is the fascinating true tale of two intrepid women who drove cross country in 1916 to build support for women's suffrage, a surging movement that won women the right to vote in 1920. The book has the lively feel of an adventure story, and the women are fun and savvy -- sneaking their cat into an upscale hotel, giving speeches from their car along the way. The art is as charming and colorful as its subjects, and the women's story brings the period and movement to light.

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What's the story?

AROUND AMERICA TO WIN THE VOTE: TWO SUFFRAGISTS, A KITTEN, AND 10,000 MILES tells the true story of Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, two New York suffragists who in 1916 drove a car to California and back to publicize the campaign to win "Votes for Women." Since the car was open and there were few paved roads, the journey was physically challenging, involving blizzards, getting hauled out of mud by mules, and shot at by the Rio Grande. Along the way, they gave speeches from the car, attended events with supporters, and even joined a circus parade, all the while scoring publicity for the suffrage movement. When they reached California, they were presented with a medal, then circled back across the northern states. An afterword sets their journey in the context of the larger historical suffrage movement, which culminated in the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the vote.

Is it any good?

This story of two women with can-do spirit who drive cross-country in 1916 to proclaim and fight for women's right to vote is an exciting adventure story celebrating lesser-known suffragists. Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles focuses less on hostile opposition and more on physical roadblocks during the journey -- blizzards and muddy roads. Hadley Hooper's art is as upbeat as Mara Rockliff's text, bathed in a sunny yellow that the afterword makes clear was the color of the movement.

The two women are indomitable, smiling even as they're up to their high-button shoes in mud. As they join a circus parade in Georgia and smuggle their cat into "a fine hotel in New Orleans," the book feels joyous, and a reminder that it was a short 100 years ago that women successfully fought for and won the right to vote.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issue of women's suffrage in Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles. Did you know that women didn't get the vote until 1920? Why do you think it took so long for the country to accept women's right to vote?

  • Are people still fighting for voting rights today? Do you hear anything in the news about the need to ensure citizens' right to vote? What other groups have had to fight for the vote?

  • In 1916 there was no GPS -- and there were not even road maps for much of the country. What other details in the story show how times were different then?

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