The Van Buren Sisters vs. the Pants Police

Kids Can. (Head-to-Head History). May 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781525302480.
Gr 2-5–A rollicking picture book about two sisters who skirted the law and made history. Adeline (Addie) and Augusta (Gussie) Van Buren were raised by a widower father who saw to it that they were competitive and confident. They excelled at sports, including motorbiking. When World War I broke out in 1914, the sisters believed they could aid in the war effort as battlefield messengers. In order to prove their point, they planned a trip from New York to California. They wore leather pants as part of their uniform. They were stopped time after time for wearing “men’s” clothing by the “Pants Police,” mostly law enforcement, but they continued on their trip. They made it all the way to San Francisco in two months and didn’t let anything get in their way. This picture book biography highlights the accomplishments of two women who didn’t let the sexist mores of the day dictate the way they lived or get in the way of their dreams. With accessible text and charming mixed-media illustrations, this narrative is informative and kid-friendly. Vehicle-related puns make this a great option for read-alouds and curricular tie-ins. Occasional bubbles filled with block text add interest, and dynamic illustrations that vary in size and format make this a fun read. Back matter includes a glossary, print and digital resources, and source notes. A section called “The Van Buren Sisters vs. History” provides further context organized by pun-filled headings like “Paving the Way” and “Stuck in a Rut.”
VERDICT A fun choice to round out picture book biography shelves, especially where titles on little-known women in history are needed.

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