Today's youth can hardly imagine a time when girls could not wear the clothes of their choosing. Early in the 20th century, women and girls wore what society dictated: long, hot dresses held in shape by corsets. Shana Corey's You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! (ages 5-8) takes the issue of women's dress reform and gives it a light and fanciful spin, making it accessible to young children.
In this vibrantly illustrated book, children meet Amelia Bloomer, who lived in Seneca Falls, New York, a place associated with the start of the women's movement. Amelia, the wife of a newspaper editor, started her own newspaper for women, called The Lily. When Elizabeth Cady Stanton's cousin came to visit, Amelia saw for the first time the modern costume that was being worn in Europe a shorter skirt worn over full-legged pants. When Amelia herself adopted the new garment and began publishing the pattern in her newspaper, these full-legged pants were called Bloomers. Shana Corey's book presents feminist ideas in a simple manner, calling the notion of having to wear heavy, hot dresses silly. Her accessible text shows how such large dresses often caused women to become stuck in gates and how the corsets often caused women to faint in public. She asks her reader, What was proper about that? Even more interesting is a thorough author's note, which puts Amelia Bloomer's legacy squarely in the context of the struggle for women's right to vote. This book is a perfect addition to a women's history collection, and it is a joy to read at any time of the year.
Krista F. Hanson is a writer and English teacher from St. Paul, Minnesota.