Monday, March 13, 2017

MOTOR GIRLS for Women's History Month






Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy (February 7, 2017, National Geographic Children's Books, 96 pages, for ages 10 and up)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Come along for a joy ride in this enthralling tribute to the daring women - Motor Girls, as they were called at the turn of the century - who got behind the wheel of the first cars and paved the way for change. The automobile has always symbolized freedom, and in this book we meet the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women. From the advent of the auto in the 1890s to the 1920s when the breaking down of barriers for women was in full swing, readers will be delighted to see historical photos, art, and artifacts and to discover the many ways these progressive females influenced fashion, the economy, politics, and the world around them.

Why I recommend it:  I need to read more nonfiction, so when National Geographic offered me a free review copy, I gladly accepted (and I will donate it to my local library). I learned so much from reading this slim and yet entertaining book. It's chock-full of fascinating tidbits from automotive history, and the history of women's rights. Includes dozens of old photos, reproductions of original newspaper articles, and full-page bios of amazing women like Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive across the United States in (can you believe it?) 1909! And A'Lelia Walker (daughter of self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker) who drove wounded soldiers in World War I as one of the members of the only Colored Women's Motor Corps.

Sue Macy has done her research. This is a delightful book. And a painless way to absorb a little history and learn about some pioneering women. I would have been happier if the cover had more kid-appeal, though.  I found the photo on the back cover more interesting.


Favorite lines:  (from p. 90) Requirement for Girl Scout Automobiling Merit Badge, 1916

1) Must pass an examination equal to that required to obtain a permit or license to operate an automobile in her community.

2) Know how to start a motor and be able to do it and be able to explain necessary precautions.

3) Know how to extinguish burning oil or gasoline.

(Yeah. Isn't that last one a kicker?)

Bonus: This is a must-have for libraries.

Sue Macy's website

24 comments:

  1. I read this one, too and loved it. So many interesting facts about life in the early part of the 20th century. I would agree this is a must for libraries. Thanks for featuring.

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    1. You and I must be on all the same review lists, Greg! Glad to hear you liked this one too.

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  2. I don't read much non-fiction but it sounds like this is one I should check out!

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    1. I suspect most of us don't read much non-fiction, Andrea. But if all NF books were this much fun, I'd definitely read more.

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  3. This sounds absolutely amazing. I'll see if my library is getting a copy. Thank-you so much!

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  4. Sounds like a really interesting book. And sad that some women in other countries are still fighting for the right to drive. It's so important for our independence to be able to drive.

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  5. WOW! I really love your review of this book. I love nonfiction stories and review as many as possible. This one reminds me of my grandmother. Gutsy ladies who led the way for other women.

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    1. I thought of both my grandmothers, too, Patricia.

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  6. This sounds like such a fun nonfiction book. I've heard about women in aviation, but not so much in automobiles. I also love the cover--and this time period is a favorite of mine. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

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    1. Glad to oblige, Jenni. If all nonfiction was this much fun, I'd read tons of it.

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  7. I will have to check this one out, Joanne. It looks terrific. Thanks for the post.

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  8. I haven't heard of this one. It definitely sounds interesting. Amazing to imagine the first woman driving across the country in 1909. Can't even guess what the roads were like! Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Oh, the roads were a mess! They were, for the most part, unpaved. There are lots of photos of cars covered in mud.

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  9. I had no idea women were driving these early cars. Amazing what gets buried in history. Good for National Geographic for unearthing it. Thanks for sharing, Joanne!

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  10. I like non fiction. Its a fun way to learn (even for us adults). Quite a bit different from the life my grandmother lived. She married in 1908 and I don't think her or Grandpa ever owned a car in their life.

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    1. Wow, Janet, that's a shame. My grandparents drove all around New England on their honeymoon in 1918!

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  11. I like Macy's bicycle book as well. My grandmother was born in 1893 and never did learn how to drive!

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    1. I'll have to check out her bicycle book. Thanks. Both of my grandmothers, also born around then, drove for most of their lives. I never realized that was unusual!

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