Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Non-Fiction Wednesday - Women's Early Rules

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!

           This is not a non-fiction story, but a story for younger children to help them begin to understand the rules made for girls and women long ago of things they could not do. It will inspire good conversations and a desire to learn more! Backmatter added will help that journey. We've heard about those things allowed only for men and boys, still sadly happening today. This time, it's bicycle riding and the terrible things that could happen when girls (or women) rode this new, wonderful invention. 
          In the story, Louisa Belinda Bellflower, a young girl wants badly to ride her brother's bicycle, no matter that she might get "bicycle face". The story shares that is because "girls aren't strong enough to balance, that your eyes will bulge, and your jaw will close up from the strain of trying--maybe FOREVER." Belinda flings off her skirt, puts on her brother's pants and asks him to teach her to ride! One other great thing about the book is the never-give-up attitude shown by Belinda. She falls, then falls again, but keeps getting back on until she is riding! Her eyes did bulge, her mouth did widen, into a "gigantic, joyous smile"!
         Larissa Theule adds extra information at the back, "About Bicycle Face" and the warnings about women riding along with the dangers of not only "bicycle face", but "bicycle leg" and "bicycle hump". Nevertheless, women and girls rode, called Wheelwomen and new fashions were devised as well. There is also a page explaining the bicycle influence on the women's right-to-vote movement.
        This quote by Susan B. Anthony is found at the beginning: "Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman riding by on a wheel."     
        Kelsey Garrity-Riley's colorful illustrations not only show Belinda's story and joy in her riding but tell a second story of the historical background with her mother working with other suffragettes in the right-to-vote movement. It ends with the mother sewing herself a pair of bloomers and both she and her daughter ready to ride! 
        In a personal family story, I was told that my grandmother caused quite a stir when she rode her horse through the little town where she had gone to live with her new husband. She rode astride wearing riding pants! I'm glad times have changed, am sorry women are still fighting for power to make their own decisions.


  1. Your grandmother sounds like a woman who was worth knowing!

    1. She really was, Annette, went on to fight for civil rights in her little town and made change! Thanks!

  2. I read this quickly at the Library of Congress kids book area when I was there for ALA! Thanks for the reminder - it's one I wanted to look for once I got home.

    1. You're welcome, Michele. It's a great introduction to this topic for young readers.


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