The author of The Bobbin Girl offers another strong, admirable character in this encounter between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a younger neighbor. Every afternoon Cordelia comes over to care for Mrs. Stanton's horse in exchange for a riding lesson plus a series of reminiscences to which she listens politely, if not always attentively. One day, after explaining how her strenuous but futile childrhood 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 fact 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.