Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Heart of Fire: Susan B. Anthony

Heart of Fire: Susan B. Anthony

Ann Malaspina
Illustrator:  Steve James 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Albert Whitman, 2012   ISBN: 978-0807531884

In  1898, after experiencing a terrible civil war, the American people’s representatives in Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that said that all persons “born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States…” Citizens could not be deprived of “life, liberty, or property,” nor could they be denied “the equal protection of the laws.” Unfortunately, this amendment sounded grand on paper, but in reality it was not always complied with, which is what Susan B. Anthony learned when she went to register to vote on November first in 1872.

   When Susan insisted that she be allowed to register to vote at the registration office, the inspectors were very “shocked and confused.” Women at that time were not allowed to vote, even if they owned property, worked and paid taxes. Susan insisted that she did have the right to vote. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution said she did. She was a citizen and should therefore be allowed to register to vote. Not knowing what else to do to, the inspectors allowed Susan to register.

   A few days later, on Election Day, Susan and fifteen other women cast their ballots. At long last women had voted in a presidential election. On the eighteen of November a federal marshal came to Susan’s house to arrest her and she found out that the charge was “Voting without having the lawful right to vote.” Susan was going to have to pay a large fine or she would go to jail until her trail.

   Some people might have quietly waited to see what would happen at the trial, but Susan did not. She worked tirelessly, traveling from town to town to tell her story, and to insist that it was not a crime for an American citizen to vote and she was an American citizen. Susan held her head up and walked tall, but she was did not feel brave inside.

   In this beautifully written picture book we become witnesses to something that happened in the late 1800’s, something that spurred a brave woman on to fight for women to have the right to vote in America. For years Susan B. Anthony fought for the women’s suffrage amendment, and though she did not live to see it pass, it did pass in 1919, in large part because of her dedication to the cause.

   At the back of the book readers will find further information about Susan B. Anthony’s life and work.