Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, May 8, 2017

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century Sue Macy

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century
Sue Macy
National Geographic. 2017
ISBN: 9781426326974
Grades 5 and up
To review this book, I used a copy that was sent by the publishers.

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews in 2017 while Cathy is on sabbatical. She returns February, 2018. 

Prolific nonfiction writer, Sue Macy, gives us an intriguing story of how the rise of the automobile helped liberate women from their restive lives and allowed them to change their place in society. Despite hurdles, men thinking they were too delicate to handle the weight of a car to banning them from races (were they worried a woman might best them?), women never gave up. Suffragettes drove cars to rally support for the right to vote; Mary Dexter, in 1918, was an ambulance driver in France during World War One. 

The writing is engaging. Clear, well-captioned photos, most in black & white, offer a visual of women embracing this new technology. Side bars throughout each chapter offer more details on topics discussed in the text. Between each chapter (five in all), is added information on how automobiles changed so many things in our society. Proper car etiquette, how driving fashion changed for the motorist to the increase in novels describing adventures people had in their motor cars. 

The book begins with a forward by professional stock car racing driver, Danica Patrick. She encourages readers to never let being a woman limit your options. “My dad always told me: “Don’t be the best girl, be the best driver.” As of 2016, Patrick has been racing automobiles for 15 years. 

Macy includes many interesting facts in the appendix: Ten silent films that feature women and their cars; U.S. passenger car production, 1900-1920; an estimate of registered automobiles in the U.S., 1900-1920. A list of resources (books, websites and museums), source notes and an index makes this a solid informational book. 

As she did in her book, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode The Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way), Macy offers readers a fresh look at the history and how the automobile changed our lives forever…especially women.
Pair this with two new titles about women taking the lead: Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights by Deborah Kops and Martina & Chrissie by Phil Bildner  


  1. This looks fascinating! I can't wait to get hold of a copy. Thanks for the post!

  2. What a great topic - can't wait to read and share Motor Girls.