lillianIt has been 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. This book looks at the history of US voting rights through the lens of personal and family history. We follow a one-hundred year old woman, Lillian, as she walks up the hill to her polling place and thinks back to how her family was refused access and finally gained access to vote. Each page shows illustrations of both present-day Lillian and of the historical events she’s thinking of. The book doesn’t shy away from horrible moments in US history–there is a page about a cross burning in Lillian’s front yard–but the book is an uplifting celebration of the right to vote. I especially loved the details of what kinds of tests African Americans were required to pass before voting in the 1950s–“How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” and Who are “all sixty-seven judges in the state of Alabama?”

The back matter talks about recent Supreme Court rulings that potentially threaten the right to vote, urging readers to not abandon the cause.

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane w. Evans. Schwartz & Wade: 2015.

Tomorrow is Election Day here. I’ll be going to the polls, grateful that I have the right to cast a ballot.

This book is the story of Susan B. Anthony’s illegal vote in 1872 when she cast a ballot in the presidential election. The book tells an important story and it’s beautifully constructed. Malaspina doesn’t try to tell us about all the great things Anthony did in her long life; the book tells just about that one vote and its dramatic consequence (spoiler: the consequence was NOT women getting the vote!).

Instead of using wordy transitions between scenes in the book, Malaspina heads sections with their time and place: “Rochester, New York, November 1, 1872.” She also repeats a refrain to keep the book organized and connected: “Outrageous. Unvelievable. True.”

The book comes alive with the richly-textured sensory detail she uses: she “jumped up to grab her purse and wrap”; they “hoisted their skirts”; “Miss Anthony’s heels tapped faster and faster.”

After you cast your ballot, sit down and share this book with a child.

Heart  on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Steve James. Albert Whitman, 2012.