Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mama Went to Jail for the Vote

Mama Went to Jail for the Vote

Kathleen Karr
Illustrator:  Malene Laugesen 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 9
Hyperion, 2005   ISBN: 978-0786805938

"Women were meant to be an ornament to man, and to comfort him after his labours." This is what Susan Elizabeth?s Papa thinks. Her mother however has very different ideas, thinking that "woman are in chains" and that it is the duty of every enlightened woman to go out and battle for the rights of all women. In short Susan Elizabeth?s mother is a suffragist and every day that she can she joins other women demonstrating against the oppression of women.

Of course for Susan Elizabeth this is all hard to understand until her mother explains to her how women in America have no say in how their country is run. Susan Elizabeth starts to get interested in her mother's cause and wants to help and so she does, in her own small way. When Susan Elizabeth's mother spends months picketing outside the White House in all weathers, Susan Elizabeth begins to think that President Wilson needs new glasses, for he does not seem to see the women and their signs.

Then, one dreadful day Susan Elizabeth?s mother is arrested and Susan Elizabeth's life gets infinitely more confusing. Being a plucky and determined young lady Susan Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. Isn't she after all one of the soldiers in her "Mama's Army?"

The "war" that Susan Elizabeth and her mother take on is superbly portrayed in this picture book which captures the essence of the struggle that the women?s rights "soldiers" faced. An interesting "Historical Note" in the back of the book provides further information about the women's rights movement.