Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On Election Day 1880, the women's rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton teaches her young neighbor a lesson in gumption. "McCully's art and story deliver [a relevant message] gracefully," said PW. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Younger children will thrill to Emily Arnold McCully's The Ballot Box Battle. McCully's shimmering watercolors and relatively short text dramatize an actual "battle," when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffrage leader, sought to cast her ballot in 1880 in Tenafly, New Jersey-and was turned away with taunts and jeers. Her young friend, fictional character Cordelia, watches sorrowfully and is finally moved to anger and spunky action when her brother and his friends chant, "No votes for pea-brained females!"
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4History, the subtle and not-so-subtle oppression of women, and the redoubtable character of Elizabeth Cady Stanton are made real and alive in this colorfully illustrated story set in the summer of 1880. Cordelia loves to ride on Mrs. Stanton's old horse and hear the stories of her neighbor's own girlhood. Despite her efforts to ride and excel in Greek, young Elizabeth's only praise was to hear "Oh, my daughter, you should have been a boy!" Cordelia's brother puts her down in the same way when he makes fun of her desire to prove herself a courageous rider. On election day, the children accompany Mrs. Stanton on her yearly attempt to cast a vote in the local contests. Seeing her friend's courage in facing the taunts and scorn of the men gathered at the polls, and angry at the teasing of the local boys, Cordelia makes her own protest by taking the old horse over a four-foot fence in a daring and dangerous leap forward. McCully's richly hued, softly textured paintings beautifully evoke the late 19th-century era and the small-town world of Tenafly, NJ, where the widowed Stanton spent her last years. Skillfully weaving fact and story, The Ballot Box Battle offers a history lesson pleasingly framed in a story about an independent young girl. A full-page author's note gives further information on Stanton and on the creation of the book.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
The author of The Bobbin Girl (p. 230) offers another strong, admirable character in this encounter between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a young neighbor. Every afternoon Cordelia comes over to care for Mrs. Stanton's horse in exchange for a riding lessonplus a series of reminiscences to which she listens politely, if not always attentively. One day, after explaining how her strenuous but futile childhood efforts to win her father's respect taught her to keep on fighting, Mrs. Stanton invites Cordelia to come along to the polls as she quixotically tries yet again to vote. Her example before a jeering (as well as, in one or two cases, admiring) throng of men and boys inspires an act of courage in Cordelia. An author's note at the end separates facts and fictions.
Like Michael Bedard's Emily (1992), this book gives readers a tantalizing, child's-eye view of an American original, a challenger of social norms and expectations. McCully's dark, vigorously brushed watercolors successfully evoke both period (1880) and personalities: Stanton is a glowering, formidable presence, while Cordelia, with her straight back, pinafore, and large hair ribbon is a poised, blonde soulmate to Mirette.
From the Publisher
*"McCully's richly hued, softly textured paintings beautifully evoke the late 19th-century era...skillfully weaving fact and story, The Ballot Box Battle offers a history lesson pleasingly framed in a story about an independent young girl" (School Library Journal, starred review).