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Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–5—Starting with an anecdote in which 10-year-old Belva Lockwood tried to "move a mountain," this picture-book biography introduces the woman who ran for president more than a century ago. That mountain-moving determination emerges as the recurring theme of her public life as she obtained a law degree, fought for equal rights, and ultimately became the first woman to receive certified votes during her 1884 presidential campaign. The book focuses largely on that presidential run, though many of Lockwood's other accomplishments are mentioned, such as arguing a case before the Supreme Court and her trendsetting use of an early version of a tricycle. A closing author's note and a time line fill in more details. The narrative generally provides just enough information to convey Lockwood's achievements and the challenges she faced. Though groundbreaking, her candidacy inspired opposition and ridicule, not just from men, but from women and even other suffragists. Quotes from Lockwood and others enliven the text. Her letter to President Grant regarding the denial of her law school diploma, for example, neatly demonstrates her polite but forceful personality. Handsome illustrations clearly set the time and place, and Lockwood's fortitude comes through in her posture and facial expressions. She is an appealing historical figure, and, with little available about her for younger readers, this is an especially timely and useful biography.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As a girl, Belva Lockwood learned that she couldn’t move mountains, but as a woman, she challenged gender roles in nineteenth-century America as the first woman lawyer to appear before the Supreme Court and the first woman to “officially” run for president. This picture-book biography includes these highlights as well as a few of Lockwood’s interesting characteristics, such as her use of a tricycle to navigate Washington, D.C. It also gives a good overview of the politics of the era and points out the irony that a woman could run for president at a time when women could not yet vote. Digital–and–pencil art portray period dress and political scenes, some showing a bright-eyed Lockwood among somber, stuffy male colleagues. Pair this with Catherine Thimmesh’s Madam President (2004) for units on presidential elections and women’s history Grades 1-3. --Linda Perkins

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810971100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810971103
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,050,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen never thought she'd grow up to be a writer. As a child, she thought of being a doctor (but she's afraid of blood), a lawyer (but she doesn't like losing arguments), a carpenter (but she's too clumsy), a model (but she likes eating too much), a presidential candidate (but she had a dissolute youth), a UN ambassador (the argument losing thing again)... almost everything but a writer.

In fact, in 2001, Sudipta was well on her way to not being a writer. She had graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 with a BS in Biology, spent a year in Boston, and then had returned to Caltech as a PhD candidate in developmental biology. That's when she had her first child, Isabella. Bella's birth didn't change Sudipta's plans - she thought she'd take a long maternity leave then return to graduate school. Then, her daughter Brooklyn came along.

With two small children, Sudipta found herself less interested in biology as she was in parenting. And for the first time, she found that she had stories to tell, stories she wanted to share with her daughters, and she decided to try to get published. After a half-dozen rejections, in 2003, Sudipta sold her first story to a children's magazine, Highlights for Children.

Using her science background as a springboard, Sudipta began writing nonfiction for children, including Championship Science Fair Projects, Last Minute Science Fair Projects, AIDS, and Autism. She branched out into other nonfiction, including biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jane Goodall, and altogether, Sudipta has written 18 nonfiction books for kids.

Her first love, however, was always picture books, so using a facility with word play and a love for animals (especially pigs), Sudipta worked on a number of manuscripts. Most of them were rejected (she freely admits, when she started writing picture books, they really stank!).

Sudipta kept at it, and fittingly, her first picture book, Tightrope Poppy, the High-Wire Pig, illustrated by Sarah Dillard, about a proud pig who perseveres was published in 2006. This was followed in 2007 by The Mine-o-saur, illustrated by David Clark, in 2008 by Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency, illustrated by Courtney Martin, and in 2009 by The Hog Prince, illustrated by Jason Wolff. Sudipta has nine other picture books scheduled for the next few years, including Pirate Princess, illustrated by Jill McElmurry, Half Pint Pete the Pirate, illustrated by Geraldo Valeria, and The Hampire, illustrated by Howard Fine. Her children, now including a son named Sawyer who was born in 2006, are a constant source of inspiration. Sudipta has heard the words "Mine! Mine! Mine!" shouted so many times that The Mine-o-saur almost flowed out of her mind naturally. Watching her daughters devour donuts inspired The Hampire, dress up playdates inspired Pirate Princess, and she refuses to admit what (or whose snoring) inspired Snoring Beauty.

As for The Hog Prince, well, any girl--including Sudipta--will tell you that you have to kiss a lot of hogs before you find what you want in life.

Sudipta visits schools to share her stories and experience, and teaches writing to children and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her family and an imaginary pony named Penny.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ace VINE VOICE on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A charming and beautifully illustrated book about an incredibly brave no-nonsense, "NEVER take No for an Answer" woman who ran for president in the late 19th century (even though women could not vote at the time) and received a surprising amount of votes.

As a child, Belva believed she could move mountains. As an adult, she met and conquered equally formidable obstacles.

She was not the FIRST woman to run for the presidency -- Victoria Woodhull was, in 1872 -- but unlike Victoria, who dropped out of the race, Belva made it all the way to the ballot box garnering more than 4,000 votes (remembere these were MEN voting, as women still did not have the vote back then).

Belva received support as well as censure, but she never let anything discourage her! She proved to be as formidable as those mountains (literal and figurative) that she faced all through her life and her career.

The beautifully rendered illustrations are lively, colorful, and tell a story of their own. (And I LOVE the way that cute little cat keeps popping up through the pages and through the ages.)

This is a book that should be required reading in all elementary schools.

Well done!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on March 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Hilary Rodham Clinton, of course, was not the first woman to run for president. But did you know that way back in 1884, years before women won the right to vote, a daring woman ran for president, and even received thousands of votes?

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Courtney A. Martin (Abrams, 2008), tells this remarkable story in an easy-to-follow picture book format, which can be enjoyed by all ages.

After working as a teacher and starting a suffrage group, Belva Lockwood decided she wanted to be a lawyer at age 39. But no law school would admit a woman in those days, except the newly formed National University law school. Belva enrolled there with fourteen other women, but was one of only two who finished the courses, since the women were made to feel uncomfortable by the male students. But when she finished, the school refused to give her a diploma, and she had to petition President Ulysses S. Grant, who was also president of the law school, in order to receive it.

Belva was a woman who accomplished many "firsts." She was the first woman to practice law in federal court and the first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She was an activist for women's rights who tried unsuccessfully to get the Republican Party to put women's suffrage on its official platform. In frustration at being ignored, she realized that there was no legal basis preventing women from running from office, even though they couldn't vote. And in 1884, she was nominated by the Equal Rights Party of the United States. She selected another woman, Marietta Stow, as her running mate, and began campaigning across the country, working hard to raise money and organize supporters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Meri Shopper on June 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have given this book to my grandchildren, my friend's grandchildren and even kept one for myself to read to any children who happen to come over and want a story read to them. It is beautifully illustrated, written so that the story itself is very interesting (even to the adult who is reading it) and it is steeped in history, now who can hate that? " Ballots for Belva" rates more than 5 stars as far as I'm concerned, it gives children a piece of history that is not taught in any schools and it does it in a beautifully fun way. I highly recommend "Ballots for Belva" the story is true, you can research "Belva Lockwood" on the internet, she was an interesting person.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1884 men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections. One Belva Lockwood took the bold step of running for president to thwart the voting inequality - and received votes. She fought for equal treatment for women, went to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court: this picture book biography celebrates her life and little-known achievements.
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