Carpenter, Angelica Shirley. Voice of Liberty, The. Edwin Fotheringham, Illus. Non-fiction. So Dakota Historical Soc. Pr., 2020. 32pp. $19.95. 978-1-94181-324-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 2-6.
In this non-fiction picture book, the events are based on a specific incident involving the work for women’s rights during the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. Three intrepid white women—Katherine (“Katie”) Devereux Blake, Lillie Devereux Blake (Katie’s mother), and Matilda Joslyn Gage—were allowed to be in the boat parade, though not to go on the island (it was supposed to be “no women” on the island during the ceremony, but some women who attended with their husbands managed to go on land). The protest group of women raised money and were only able to afford a smelly cattle boat, and some of their fellow protesters declined to embark. However, two hundred others (including 25 men) did join the protest despite the malodorous conditions. The art appears to be watercolor-and ink, and includes what seem to be middle-to-upper-class people (based on style of clothing) differing in age, gender, hair colors, and skin tones. The illustrator did not include much skin-tone diversity, and the drawings of crowds are often tiny and wavery, sometimes making it difficult to determine color, although one particular black woman is depicted in several scenes, and the timeline shows a black man fighting with the Union troops against Confederate soldiers. Back matter includes sections titled: Three Women in the Fight for Women’s Rights; The Statue of Liberty (which describes the construction and building of the statue in France and the deconstruction and rebuilding of it when it arrived at Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor); a timeline ranging from 1776 through 1972; a bibliography; an author’s note; and a final section of source notes for selected dialogue. The story’s energetic text could easily be used in a storytime for older listeners. Additionally, using the timeline would be especially helpful in a classroom setting, because of the succinct encapsulation of the situation on that day. It would be an excellent starting point for discussion of the continuing struggles for voting equality we face even today. The richness of such a short book (the story itself is only 23 pages long, followed by nine pages of back matter) serves as a fine model for other writers of historical non-fiction in picture book format. Since the book is intended to focus on Mrs. and Miss Blake and Mrs. Gage, and the action takes place on one day, this reviewer’s only quibbles are that the art could have included more racial diversity, and that the bibliographies do not include enough books that discuss the roles of people of color in the suffrage movement.
Kathy L. Haug, LibraryKat’s Practiced Eye Proofreading