Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli

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Jo Napoli. This historical fiction tale of the year follows the aftermath of the potato blight in Ireland, 1846-1847. Once again the potato crops aren’t doing well and people are contemplating leaving Ireland for a more hopeful and prosperous land. The sentence describing the people’s worries about traveling to other countries, where guns are needed to fight off criminals, and how they were so shocked by this idea was an eye-opener. How times have changed. The story takes us through how tenants rebel against the landlords and how people die from starvation, injuries from fighting and also sickness. The postscript states the fictional and true parts of this story and recalls the horribly high death toll because of the potato blight and how the suffering continued for several years. The author’s note explains the reasons for the blight and the timeline of Ireland to the famine’s end starting at prehistoric times up to 1851. I appreciate the author taking the time for extensive research into Ireland and its history and for describing what the Irish people went through when their crops were devastated. 4 stars!

Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling

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Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling which tells the story of events that took place between the beginning of the women’s rights movement in 1848 and when women were given the right to vote in 1920. The appendix includes a list of the primary sources used for this book’s research and there’s also a timeline included. The preface describes how women from both sides of the suffrage movement approached a political candidate for his support in 1920. I’m shocked that some women were actually against having the right to vote! The story opens with an eleven year old Elizabeth Cady (eventually Elizabeth Cady Stanton) mourning the loss of her twenty year old brother Eleazar, the last male heir in the family. Her father is inconsolable and she makes it a mission to be everything her brother was and this became the beginning of Elizabeth’s goal towards learning and courage. The support for women’s rights is impressive and includes Frederick Douglass (an escaped slave and civil rights leader), Sojourner Truth (an escaped slave and strong speaker) and Susan B. Anthony (abolitionist) and many more supporters. A march for the suffrage movement in 1913 became so powerful that a mob forced the marchers into a single file. The marchers suffered from police brutality and this brutality was helpful to the movement because women gained public sympathy and attention. Picketers in 1917 took their stand in front of the White House and were arrested for “obstructing traffic”. These protesters were released eventually because the government was worried that the women would become martyrs. Later in this same year, picketers were sent to workhouses with unsanitary conditions and mistreatment. Alice Paul, the suffrage leader during this time, was severely mistreated and began a hunger strike which many other protesters joined. By 1920, the Senate approved ratification of the 19th Amendment. This is a definitive account of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s and Susan B. Anthony’s and many others’ actions towards women’s rights that will be a perfect source for research. 5 stars!