cover image You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer

Shana Corey. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-07819-1

Modern rebels meet a kindred spirit in Corey and McLaren's exuberant debut that introduces feminist pioneer Amelia Bloomer. ""Amelia Bloomer was NOT a proper lady,"" trumpets the text, which tells how to recognize 19th-century women of propriety: ""Their dresses were so long that... their skirts swept up all the mud and trash from the street. What was proper about that?"" Amid graceful illustrations of ladies in overblown ruffles and breath-restricting corsets, Amelia appears in a practical navy blue dress, hatless. Amelia is especially impressed by suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton's cousin, Libby Miller, who has the good sense to wear a knee-length skirt over baggy, gathered pants. Amelia pronounces the outfit ""Brilliant!"" and publicizes it in the women's newspaper that she edits. Fans and foes alike name the new look after her. The title, styled as a taunt, implies Amelia's daring, and the conclusion links bloomers to body-baring ""1920's swimwear"" and groovy ""60's bellbottoms."" McLaren presents Amelia's fashion statement in gestural gouaches that imitate designers' sketches; the characters seem to float across the white pages. The artist's palette incorporates the strong violet, deep pink and yellow of aniline dyes, and a curvy typeface complements decorative curlicues in the images. In a breezy and delightfully chic manner, Corey and McLaren tell an inspiring tale of nonconformity. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)