From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Statues of Esther Morris are found in front of the Wyoming State Capitol and in the United States Capitol, yet she is not as well known as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. White tells the story of the woman's achievements in helping to gain the vote for women in Wyoming and as the first female judge and the first woman in the United States to hold political office. However, even the author admits that only the barest facts are known about her subject's early life, her millinery business, and her two marriages. As a result, readers are given an appealing, inspiring story, but is it historical fiction or nonfiction? White is successful in depicting a strong, dynamic woman. Whether brewing tea or learning to sew, from an early age Esther adamantly states, I could do that!–the mantra of her life. From New York to Illinois to the Wyoming Territory, Morris takes care of herself and her family while championing the abolitionist and suffragist causes. Carpenter's bright, lively chalk illustrations contribute to the cheerful, fast-paced tone of the story. Her work complements the understated text with humor-filled illustrations. To discuss voting and elections with young children, this title would work well with Emily Arnold McCully's The Ballot Box Battle
(Knopf), or Elinor Batezat Sisulu's more modern The Day Gogo Went to Vote
(Little, Brown, both 1996), set in South Africa.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. Hatmaker, wife, mother, pioneer, and activist, Morris was instrumental in getting the vote for women in Wyoming, the first state to pass such a law. After a local judge resigned in outrage, Morris added insult to injury by taking his job--thereby becoming the first woman in the U.S. to hold public office. Inspired by the facts of Morris' life and punctuated throughout with the woman's read-aloud-friendly affirmations of "I can do that!" this may appeal to young readers more than Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge's fact-filled but workmanlike When Esther Morris Headed West
(2001). White's carefully shaped text is amplified by Carpenter's folksy oils, which combine prim, period details and witty exaggerations in the spirit of her illustrations for the tall tale Loud Emily
(1999). Children drawn by jacket art showing Esther as a little girl may be surprised that the story mostly features a grown woman, but they'll be quickly won over by a character so determined that, once an idea occurred to her, "it was more likely that things were about to change than that things would stay the same." An author's note and suggestions for further research conclude a well-crafted story that secures Morris a deserved place in the sorority of redoubtable picture-book heroines. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved