Thursday, December 26, 2019

Might Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women's Running Revolutionary

Swaby, Rachel and Fox, Kit. Might Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women's Running Revolutionary
October 15th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Public library copy

Maureen Wilton saw her brother come home from school with a ribbon he won in a race, and decided that she wanted to win one, too. Eventually, she set a women's marathon record on May 6, 1967 with a time of 3:15:23. At that point in time, girls and women were not encouraged to run, but Wilton was very fortunate that her parents were supportive and that she found a coach, Sy Mah, who was willing to work with a girls' running team. Unfortunately, the rest of the world was still not up to speed with women's running, and the negative reactions eventually got to Wilton, and she dropped out of the sport. Mighty Moe tells the story of Maureen's fight to be able to race, her training, and the politics with which she had to deal at a very young age in order to pursue something that she loved.

This is a fascinating snap shot of a (thankfully!) long ago time that young people don't understand. When I was in middle school, there was no girls' cross country team, but for my students, girls have always been able to do anything. Many of their mothers ran cross country. The training methods, running outfits and shoes, insistence of society that girls don't run, and even the grainy pictures taken from 8mm movies all seem like ancient history compared to today!

More importantly, Wilton's fight to keep running, and the toll the negative publicity took on her, are important for young people to understand. It's one thing to participate in a difficult sport; it's another to keep working under difficult conditions when people are repeatedly telling you it's something you CAN'T do! It was fascinating to find out that Kathrine Switzer came to run with Wilton not long after her own fraught marathon run, and that the two connected years later.

This is worth purchasing if only for the history of women's running it contains, but I loved reading about a young girl who had a dream that she was able to achieve despite obstacles, and loved the fact that she helped open up the world of running for other girls and women.  While some of the training methods are definitely not advisable ("kill it to cure it" did NOT work with my Achilles tendon!), this is a fantastic window into a bygone time. Definitely purchasing. 

Roberts, David. Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
May 31st 2018 by Pan Macmillan
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

While there are a number of excellent books about women's suffrage available, including Kops' Alice Paul, Zimet's Roses and Radicals, and Bausum's With Courage and Cloth, this book is a bit unusual-- it focuses more on the British movement to get women the vote. It does touch on some US movements and personalities, but the timeline is centered around the Women's Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst.

In the US, the women's movement ran into difficulties along racial lines, with African-American participants often being told to keep quiet or go to the back of the parade. It is noteworthy to see African-American women's leaders mentioned, and this would be a great book for students looking to do a National History Day project on someone who has not previously been studied as much. In the UK, the movement ran into more problems along class lines, since the population was not quite as diverse in the early 1900s. I expect that we will see more books that include different voices, and this one is a good start.

Following the different movements, protests, and people chronologically, Suffragette paints an easily understandable trajectory of events. I wasn't aware that the women's movement in the UK was so violent! There's lots of rock throwing, glass breaking, and even jujitsu! My favorite part of this, however, is the large number of thumbnail biographies that accompany the well done illustrations of the historical characters.

There is a very nice bibliography at the end of the book that will get readers started on other books. With it's nicely formatted page design and attractive, colorful drawings, Suffragette is definitely a book that will get young feminists informed about the past so that they can make a difference in the future.

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