Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Heart on Fire

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President
written by Ann Malaspina; illustrated by Steve James
2012 (Albert Whitman)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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With the media's strong focus on the voting preferences of women in the upcoming 2012 general election, it is the perfect timing for a book about a woman who helped lead the fight for women's suffrage. Heart on Fire, a free verse recounting of Susan B. Anthony's vote in the 1872 election, starts with a juxtaposition of the 14th and 19th amendments on the first page. It was Anthony's contention that anyone who paid taxes, owned property, held a job, or raised children was covered by the 14th amendment. This seemed like a logical argument to the inspectors at the voter registration office, so they allowed her to register to vote a mere four days before the election. Anthony, along with fifteen other women, proceeded to vote four days later. Two weeks later, a federal marshal tapped on her door. He had come to arrest her for voting. It is at this point in the book where you can teach a lesson on voting irregularities and how people can still be arrested today for not voting in the proper manner. Anthony was not pleased that her lawyer posted one thousand dollars bail as she would rather have gone to jail and not give the court any money. Before the trial began, Susan B. Anthony visited many cities and towns to argue her case against denying women the right to vote. The United States v.  Susan B. Anthony opened on June 23, 1873. Anthony was not allowed to speak during the trial, but instead had to rely on her lawyer to present her side of the story. After being found guilty of illegally voting, the judge asked if she had anything to say. This was the opportunity for Susan B. Anthony to speak and speak she did. She explained that her rights had been ignored. Despite the banging of the irritated judge's gavel, Anthony kept on speaking. During sentencing, she was ordered to pay one hundred dollars plus court costs, but she never paid one cent of it. Susan B. Anthony was defiant and won some measure of satisfaction although she would not live to see the day women could legally vote in an election.

Heart on Fire is a terrific account of a historical (yes, I had to look up "a or an before h") event. Ann Malaspina is able to convey Susan B. Anthony's determined drive for women's suffrage in an accessible text for upper elementary students. This book could open discussions about the role of women in American society and how it has changed. I would pair it with Grace for President which is a picture book featuring a young lady running for school president because she has no role models on the national stage. You could also use this book to discuss why it is important to vote and what this right has meant to different groups of people in our history.




12 comments:

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful review. This looks like great nonfiction, which we always need more of!

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    1. I love nonfiction and am fortunate to have great stuff sent my way. Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. Hi Jeff, this actually reminded me of two novels in verse that also touch on women's suffrage: Helen Frost's amazing Crossing Stones and Margarita Engle's The Firefly Letters. I have a feeling that these books would all go well together. Thanks for sharing this! Will look for this one.

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    1. Thank you, Myra! I'll have to check out those two books. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

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  3. A timely book indeed! I also love the fact that it's told in verse. This would be a great addition to all we read when we study the suffragist movement.

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  4. This sounds like wonderful book - thank you for introducing it! I look forward to sharing this one with my students.

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  5. I'll have to keep this one in mind when Margo (The Fourth Musketeer) and I kick off our Women's History Month celebration in March.

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    1. Yes, that's a great reminder, Lisa! I will have to remember this link when March rolls around.

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  6. Thanks for such a thoughtful,thorough review of my book. I appreciate your getting the word out, especially during this fiery election season! I'm glad to discover your blog.

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    1. I'm glad you stopped by, Ann! Heart on Fire is a terrific book. Congratulations!

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