Review Blog

Apr 16 2020

The unstoppable Letty Pegg by Iszi Lawrence

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Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781472962478.
(Ages: 10+). Highly recommended. The unstoppable Letty Pegg by Iszi Lawrence is a factual historical account of the Suffragette Movement in England in 1910. Women were fighting for the right to vote and being treated shamefully by the law, the public and the Government. Eleven year old Letty Pegg is the daughter of a middle class mother who belongs to the Suffragette movement and a working class police constable father - their marriage being something of a rarity due to the class system at that time. Letty accidentally witnesses the brutality of the police during a Suffragette march and through a turn of events becomes a student of Jiu Jitsu. The Academy where Letty learns and masters Jiu Jitsu is run by Sensei Edith Garrud. This is a well researched historical fact that the author has tied successfully into Letty's story. Edith Garrud was an important figure in the Suffragette struggle and became a Jiu Jitsu instructor to the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). With her husband she held classes to teach women of all ages how to defend themselves during the increasingly violent protests. Letty is mentored and supported by Garrud and puts her training to good use and forms important friendships along the way. Included in the story is the disturbing school system of the 1900s. The teachers were cruel and administered corporal punishment freely. Girls were treated poorly and educated basically for marriage or to go into service. Letty and her soon to be close friend Mabel continually baulk at this and Letty is continually on the receiving end of a caning from her unpleasant teacher, Mr Metcalfe. While there are times in the story where Letty's escapades and situations seem implausible, readers will gain a valuable insight into the class divide at the time, the oppression of females and the distressing schooling situation.
The Australian Curriculum Year Six History component looks at Suffragettes and this novel would be a welcome introduction to this very important topic. There are many events in the story for 21st century students to explore and research. This book would be an important addition to any class or school library. Themes: History, Friendship, Suffragettes, Jiu Jitsu, Women's rights.
Kathryn Beilby

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