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.
Reaching back more than a century, Stauffacher and McMenemy resurrect the story of pioneering woman cyclist Tillie Anderson and make Lance Armstrong feel like yesterday's news. Racing in a self-created aerodynamic outfit (hence the needle reference in the title), Anderson both scandalized and thrilled 1890s America as she shattered records for speed and endurance, leaving competitors and conventional wisdom in the dust. At first, McMenemy's (The Busiest Street in Town) doll-like characterizations and pert settings seem too dainty to serve the story of an athletic heroine and her frenzied times, but within a few pages Anderson's unstoppable determination and energy read loud and clear in fact, McMenemy proves that the diminutive can also be indomitable. Stauffacher's (Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson) writing is as sprightly and heartfelt as ever, and to her credit, she connects Tillie's accomplishments to the building women's rights movement. An excellent afterword, tucked on the inside back cover, provides fascinating historical context for Anderson's story. Worthy of taking its place beside You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! and other top-notch junior histories. Ages 5 8.