Ida B. Wells Marches for the Vote

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. Jan. 2024. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316322478.
Gr 2-4–Johnson writes with the conviction of Ida B. Wells and her inherent beliefs about right and wrong. From a very young age, Wells took over as head of household, teaching to earn money for her orphaned siblings before becoming a writer who would publish wherever and however she could to get her opinions out, even buying an interest in a news journal she wrote for. After necessarily telescoped coverage of Wells in her other roles, and how often she did the “right” thing or the “bold” thing in the name of sticking to her beliefs, the book centers on the suffragettes who marched for the women’s vote in Washington, D.C. in 1913; they were from all over the country, united by their goal, but another ugly division had appeared: the white suffragettes only cared about the vote for white women. Despite this, Wells joined the march and others like it, always going with what was right in the long term. Johnson is careful to lay the groundwork for her subject’s many fine moments. Jordan’s illustrations, electing for a rough folk-art look over anything like realism in the faces and bodies of the marchers, make this seem out of a dream until the moment when Wells serenely takes her place at the front of the line. Back matter invites readers to learn more through the resources listed, and also includes a time line of Wells’s life.
VERDICT Until her name is as familiar as Abraham Lincoln’s, we can’t have too many books about Wells; pair this with Michelle Duster’s extraordinary Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth.

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