cover image Bloomers!


Rhoda Blumberg. Bradbury Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-711684-7

A significant subject--the early struggle for women's rights--receives disappointing treatment from a Newbery Honor winner. Blumberg ( Jumbo ) chronicles Libby Miller's 1851 invention of bloomers, a loose-fitting alternative to constricting corsets and petticoats (referred to as ``the female's `cage' '' and as ``a `clothes prison' ''). The bloomers serve here as a symbol of--and vehicle for--the growing women's suffrage movement. But Blumberg's text is choppy and didactic, plunging readers headlong into a jumble of social issues (women's fashions, voting rights, the temperance crusade, hair-bobbing, social mores and general oppression of women). She invokes a panoply of historical figures (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer as well as Miller), but doesn't delineate their achievements. Morgan's ( Jake Bakes a Cake ) workmanlike watercolors, lacking in facial detail, tend to trivialize the book's important themes. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)