Rise Up with a Song: The True Story of Ethel Smyth, Suffragette Composer

Bushel & Peck. Nov. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781638191315.
Gr 1-4–Ethel Smyth, born in England in 1858, was a skilled composer and fervent believer in the rights of women to participate in the world equal to men. She was also an ardent suffragist, campaigning for the right of women to vote. This sympathetic short biography presents Smyth as both a rebel and a leader beginning in early childhood and through her long and accomplished life. As a talented composer she was forced to conceal that she was a woman in order to be published and performed. As a suffragist she purposely went to prison to shine light on the fate of other women campaigning for the vote. While incarcerated she conducted her anthem to suffrage, “March of the Women,” which became a paean to the movement. Charmingly illustrated in full color, in a style that recalls the works of Lois Lenski, the book makes clear the constraints placed on girls and women and the debt modern society owes to the courage of Smyth and others. The text does not mention the outcome of the suffrage protests that resulted in British women being able to vote beginning in 1928, during Smyth’s lifetime. A useful work which can be included in the study of the suffrage movement as well as to show the obstacles girls and women had to overcome in times past. Back matter includes a time line and resources.
VERDICT Charming illustrations and a brief text make accessible an early suffragist and lesser-known British composer. Eclectic but enjoyable.

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