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Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a…
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Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle…

by Sue Stauffacher

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    Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History! by Shana Corey (lquilter)
    lquilter: Mermaid Queen and Tillie the Terrible Swede are both about women athletes who had to revolutionize women's dress to participate in their sports (swimming and cycling, respectively).
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Tillie Anderson - nicknamed "Tillie the Terrible Swede" after one of her many bicycling triumphs - was a young woman unafraid of bucking the conventions of her day, particularly those conventions guiding issues of 'proper' attire and behavior for ladies. A recent Swedish immigrant to America, she was working in a tailor's shop when a man rode by on a bicycle, and the rest, as they say, is history. Determined to ride this exciting new vehicle, and ride it fast, Tillie devised a scandalous outfit for herself - it was form-fitting! it involved pants! - and was soon setting records in all kinds of bicycle races. As her mother fainted, and men opined that it wasn't natural, Tillie calmly proved that women could be athletes too.

Although not particularly fond of some of the over-sexualized attire that many young women these days seem to prefer (I know, I know, color me an old fuddy-duddy), I think it can't be emphasized enough that women's clothing - and the choices that women have, when it comes to how they dress - is an incredibly important indication of how equal a society is, as it concerns gender and sex. Deliberately keeping women confined in garments that prevent certain activities - be it sport (traditional dresses), proper sight (certain kinds of veils), and even proper breathing (corsets) - is a form of oppression, and so I'm always pleased when a children's book highlights the struggles of prior generations of women to free themselves of harmful sartorial restrictions. All Tillie wanted to do was ride a bike - something perfectly natural, and eminently healthy - but in order to do so, she had to violate her society's standards, when it came to "decent" behavior for women. Her story is an important reminder that such standards are often a smokescreen for inequity, rather than a protector of morality.

Leaving that aside, Tillie the Terrible Swede is also just an immensely engaging and inspirations story, of a young woman who had the vision to see beyond her life and society, as it was, to how they could be. She followed her dream, despite the opposition of many - including some friends, who stopped speaking to her! - and it brought her happiness, fame, and even love, in the form of her manager, who eventually became her husband. I really enjoyed this one, both for the story (and its message) and the appealing gouache and collage artwork. Recommended to young athletes in need of inspiration, it can be read together with another tale of a woman who bucked the conventions guarding women's wear, and invented a shocking(!) new kind of bathing suit for women: Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History!. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 12, 2013 |
Entertaining biography about Tillie Anderson, a woman at the turn of the 20th century who engaged in such scandalously "unwomanly" activities as bicycle riding. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
This book tells the story of Tillie. It starts with who she was before she started racing. The book tells about some of the things she had to surpass to become the racer she wanted to be. This is a good book for teaching students about not letting anything get in your way of what you want to become. ( )
  dvnguye5 | Apr 19, 2012 |
Tillie the terrible Swede: How one woman, a sewing needle, and a bicycle changed history by Sue Stauffacher, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy

The Text: In exuberant, exciting language, Stauffacher tells the story of Tillie Anderson, a young Swedish immigrant, who embraced the bicycling fervor of the 1890s and became a famous racer and female cyclist.

The Illustrations: The illustrations were created in gouache, hand-painted paper collage and black india ink. They are awash with colors, most of the illustrations are painted primarily contrasting colors.When Tillie dreams of cycling, her bright yellow dress clashes cheerfully with her mother's purple gown and dainty parlor. There are few details of faces, all of the characters are drawn as fleshed-out stick figures, with Tillie's wooden doll smile and blonde hair beaming steadily throughout the pictures.

The Extras: The back endpapers contain a timeline of Tillie's cycling victories and record breakers as well as an author's note that briefly explains the cycling craze and how it liberated women around the turn of the century. Additional resources are given in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book.

Verdict: The illustrations are bright and cheery, but without depth or emotion. I would have liked to see actual photographs and reproductions instead of the stylistic drawings. The additional information could have been arranged more helpfully for readers. This is a fun picture book, but I would recommend Wheels of Change if you're looking for a title on this topic.

ISBN: 978-0375844423; Published January 2011 by Knopf; Borrowed from the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Jan 15, 2012 |
This book tells the story of 'Tillie Anderson - the Terrible Swede' http://www.tillieanderson.com/. Born in Sweden she went to America, and got herself a job in a tailor shop. When a man speeds by on a bicycle she finds inspiration. Ignoring advice that bicycles aren't for ladies, Tillie designs a radical new cycling outfit and goes for it. In 1896 she sets a new bicycling record. Charmingly illustrated, this is a great story about a cycling legend. ( )
  boppisces | Aug 16, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375844422, Hardcover)

When Tillie Anderson came to America, all she had was a needle. So she got herself a job in a tailor shop and waited for a dream to find her. One day, a man sped by on a bicycle. She was told "bicycles aren't for ladies," but from then on, Tillie dreamed of riding—not graceful figure eights, but speedy, scorching, racy riding! And she knew that couldn't be done in a fancy lady's dress. . . . With arduous training and her (shocking!) new clothes, Tillie became the women's bicycle-riding champion of the world.
Sue Stauffacher's lively text and Sarah McMenemy's charming illustrations capture the energy of America's bicycle craze and tell the story of one woman who wouldn't let society's expectations stop her from achieving her dream.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:42 -0400)

A story of America's bicycle craze and the story of one woman who wouldn't let society's expectations stop her from achieving her dream.

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