The Ballot Box Battle

by Emily Arnold McCully

Cordelia, the heroine of this picture story which takes place in 1880, loves horses... read more

Cordelia, the heroine of this picture story which takes place in 1880, loves horses so much that she willingly volunteers to help her elderly neighbor Mrs. Stanton care for her horse in exchange for daily riding lessons. More than anything, Cordelia would like to learn to jump a four-foot fence, although she can't imagine the old woman teaching her to do something quite so daring. But Mrs. Stanton, it seems, is quite a dare-devil in her own right. In a smoothly executed flashback sequence, the woman recounts some events from her early 19th century childhood when she broke a social taboo by attending a boys' academy where she became one of the school's best pupils. This childhood experience set her on her life-long struggle for women's rights. Mrs. Stanton, of course, is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, shown here as both a child and as a mature woman who tried -- unsuccessfully -- to cast a ballot whenever there was an election. Through the eyes of young Cordelia, perceptive readers will see that Mrs. Stanton was every bit as courageous as those who jump four-foot fences. McCully's style, both verbal and visual, is understated but her message about equal rights is clear. Most of today's young readers will no doubt be amazed that the right to vote was something women fought long and hard to attain. (Ages 5-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1996

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