Likely to become a popular gift for youngsters this year, The Voice of Liberty is a story from the long U.S. women’s struggle to gain the right to vote. Boys as well as girls should understand that history, which is particularly apt in this centennial year of that foundational right. This delightful picture book describes an historic action to draw attention to the fact that the goddess of Liberty was a female symbol and yet females were barred from speaking at, or even attending, the national celebration when her Statue was installed in New York’s harbor.
Wonderfully illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham in a style that will engage both children and adults, this is a story that bears remembering. Three women, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lillie Devereux Blake, and her daughter Katie Devereux Blake, had all been actively working for women’s suffrage for decades. As members of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association, they approached the men involved in organizing the event, asking to speak at the unveiling. They were gruffly refused, but not defeated. Liberty’s voice must surely be a woman’s, and they would not be silenced.
Author Angelica Shirley Carpenter knows that the story of how those women managed to be heard is likely to be a new one to most of us. Schools don’t teach much about this history. Now, 137 years after Lady Liberty became a beacon for freedom to people from around the world, it’s high time to remember the women who demanded she be given her rightful voice.
The book includes brief biographies of the heroines who led the protest, a short history of the Statue of Liberty itself, a timeline of the U.S. history of voting rights, and a useful bibliography for parents and teachers. Carpenter has provided a creative and light way to begin discussing the significant and still-current issues in this country related to women’s equality and everyone’s voting rights. Appropriate for children aged 6-12, The Voice of Liberty would make an excellent addition to any home or school library, and an especially fine bedtime story for the next generation of strong women.