by Willow Dawson (
) – (
Finished: May 19, 2012
Published: Nov. 1, 2011
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Genre: Graphic novel, YA, biography, suffrage
First sentence: “Summer 1883. Frankie’s the same age as you and he can read.”
Publisher’s Summary: “Nellie McClung made an indelible mark on Canada. She was the author of eighteen
books, a political activist and social reformer. In every role she played, she
demonstrated unfailing courage, wit and resourcefulness, and helped make a
better world for women and girls.
In the first frames of this brilliant graphic biography, Willow Dawson
plunges readers into the rugged world of Canada’s western pioneers, taking us
into the early life of McClung as the child of homesteaders, and follows her on
her path to becoming a teacher, a crusader, a suffragette and eventually the
first female Member of Parliament.”
Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.
Reason for Reading: Author Monica Kulling recommended this on her FB page and I’m always up for more Canadian biographical/historical graphics.
A well-written and engaging story concentrating on Nellie McClung, the crusader, the suffragette and fighter for women’s rights. It tells her story from childhood on through until her death. This is not her entire story nor a full biography but one that focuses on the woman who is hailed as a hero of feminism and women’s rights. The book does this job well and presents an interesting story, making Nellie out to be a hero for women today. Some important aspects of her life and beliefs are left out though, because they are not of the type political correctness wants us to remember about this woman. First her Christian (Baptist) beliefs were very strong and the guiding force behind her activism. This is mentioned in the afterword but not a part of the biography at all.
Also Ms. McClung was a strong supporter of eugenics. This again was never mentioned in the biography and is only mentioned in a non-judgemental sentence in the afterword. Unfortunately, this vile practice (Eugenics) was well supported at this time in history, was imposed by law in Alberta until the 1970s, was the major part of Hitler’s plan for a “master race” and again is a favoured ideology through the abortion of Down’s Syndrome Children and African/Third World children.
Having read Dawson’s other graphic novel, I am still not a fan of her facial drawings but they are more suited to this period piece than to the contemporary Lila and Ecco …. Here they fit in with an overall Art Deco feeling. Overall an enjoyable bio, for what it is trying to do but I would prefer a more balanced approach with the whole true story, without it trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.