Amelia Bloomer is not
a proper lady. She thinks proper ladies of the 19th century are silly. They're not allowed to vote, not supposed to work, and all that fuss about clothes! Ridiculously wide hoop skirts, yards and yards of hot petticoats, and cruelly tight corsets supported by whalebone or steel made women faint at the drop of the hat: "What was proper about that?" So Amelia, being so very improper, sets out to revolutionize the world for women.
Not only does she start her own newspaper and try to change the voting laws, she also popularizes a new fashion. This bold new garb shocks the proper ladies, but frees all others to move, digest, breathe, and think about something other than keeping from fainting (such as voting and working). Named for their best spokesperson, bloomers marked the start of a kinder, gentler approach to women's fashion--and women's rights.
Shana Corey's lightly humorous voice is perfect for this true story about the 19th-century women's rights activist. A note at the end provides horrifying and fascinating information about women's restrictive clothing (corsets sometimes displaced internal organs!) and the dress reform that Amelia Bloomer spearheaded. Chesley McLaren's breezy, exuberant illustrations charmingly reflect her background in fashion design and illustration. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Modern rebels meet a kindred spirit in Corey and McLaren's exuberant debut that introduces feminist pioneer Amelia Bloomer. "Amelia Bloomer was NOT a proper lady," trumpets the text, which tells how to recognize 19th-century women of propriety: "Their dresses were so long that... their skirts swept up all the mud and trash from the street. What was proper about that?" Amid graceful illustrations of ladies in overblown ruffles and breath-restricting corsets, Amelia appears in a practical navy blue dress, hatless. Amelia is especially impressed by suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton's cousin, Libby Miller, who has the good sense to wear a knee-length skirt over baggy, gathered pants. Amelia pronounces the outfit "Brilliant!" and publicizes it in the women's newspaper that she edits. Fans and foes alike name the new look after her. The title, styled as a taunt, implies Amelia's daring, and the conclusion links bloomers to body-baring "1920's swimwear" and groovy "60's bellbottoms." McLaren presents Amelia's fashion statement in gestural gouaches that imitate designers' sketches; the characters seem to float across the white pages. The artist's palette incorporates the strong violet, deep pink and yellow of aniline dyes, and a curvy typeface complements decorative curlicues in the images. In a breezy and delightfully chic manner, Corey and McLaren tell an inspiring tale of nonconformity. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
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