Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeCultureBooksWhen Grandma Burnt Her Bra

When Grandma Burnt Her Bra

When Grandma Burnt Her Bra
Author: Samantha Tidy
Illustrator: Aśka
EK Books, $24.99

The dynamic video trailer for this trailblazing book should easily get your kids (aged 6 to 9 years) motivated to fight for equal rights.

But the book itself is awesome too – and my favourite line is “She burnt her bra to make a PROTEST. This is what you do when something is not right.”

The “she” referred to in this line is the grandmother of our young protagonist Maggie. Grandma Margaret has kept some sepia-tone photos in a box which depict women protesting (including her) and Maggie is looking through them.

She’s gobsmacked to discover that women back “in the dinosaur days” were not allowed to vote and that they were left out of decision making and they always had to look after the children and they didn’t get equal pay for doing the same job.

“Scandalous,” she gasps at one point. “Outrageous,” she yells at another.

Maggie realises quite swiftly why her grandma decided to burn her bra on purpose.

“In her day, there were people who believed women were not as important as men.”

What!

One of the bumptious men who says women are not equal is kitted out in stone age attire and a growing number of dinosaurs are breaking through fences and flying overhead. It’s a fabulous way to show how Maggie’s present-day reality is merging with her imagination of what the bad old days of inequality were like.

“I can’t believe my gran even survived with all those Pterodactyls outside,” she says.

By the end of the book Maggie looks quite fierce with the fire in her belly – her eyes square and penetrating – and she knows the fight her grandma fought for equality must continue.

As author Samantha Tidy says of why she wrote When Grandma Burnt Her Bra, “Now and then, despite so much achievement in gender equality, a sharp reminder arrives that we are not quite done with this agenda! I want young boys and girls to read it, and know the baton is in their hands to continue this valuable work – started by the many generations before them.”

Teacher’s notes for the book offer thoughtful questions, including: What kinds of rights do girls and women have today? What kinds of things can you do in the future to ‘keep the fire alight’ and stand up for women’s rights?

If that makes the book sound dour, believe me, it’s not.

The illustrations are bright and playful and the book has a delightful energy that sweeps you up in it – meaning your kids may even want to burn their undies once the last page is turned.

I reckon Maggie and her grandma would join me in saying, “If this helps to advance equality, why not?”

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