You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer, by Shana Corey; Chelsey McLaren ill. Scholastic Press, 2000.
by Tara Bloyd
Aimed at young children, this short picture book presents the story of Amelia Bloomer and her eponymous outfit in a simple, direct fashion. The illustrations are bright and compelling, and are set off by a generous amount of white space. The book contrasts Amelia Bloomer with the “proper ladies” who surrounded her – women who were not supposed to work or vote, and who wore dresses that required 20-30 yards of fabric just for the skirt. The fact that Amelia didn’t invent bloomers – something that many people do not know – is clearly stated and is important. As editor of the woman’s newspaper The Lily, Amelia’s championing of the short skirt and baggy pantaloons to replace cumbersome, socially-approved dresses was crucial to their popularization, and the book shows how both men and women reacted to the new clothing option.
I found the Author’s Note at the end of the book the most compelling part; it provides additional information about Amelia Bloomer’s life and times that couldn’t really be discussed within the parameters of a book for young children. As an introduction to the issues facing women in the 19th century, though, the book is a good addition to suffrage-related libraries.