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Children's Fiction General

Hyena in Petticoats

The Story Of Suffragette Nellie Mcclung

by (author) Willow Dawson

PRH Canada Young Readers
Initial publish date
Nov 2011
General, Canada
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2011
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Nellie McClung made an indelible mark on Canada. She was the author of eighteen books, a political activist and social reformer. In every role she played, she demonstrated unfailing courage, wit and resourcefulness, and helped make a better world for women and girls.In the first frames of this brilliant graphic biography, Willow Dawson plunges readers into the rugged world of Canada's western pioneers, taking us into the early life of McClung as the child of homesteaders, and follows her on her path to becoming a teacher, a crusader, a suffragette and eventually the first female Member of Parliament.

About the author

Award winning author and illustrator Willow Dawson’s books include Ghost Limb, Hyena In Petticoats, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea with Helaine Becker, Lila and Ecco’s Do-It-Yourself Comics Club, No Girls Allowed with Susan Hughes, and the upcoming The Wolf-Birds. Her books have been supported by the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Willow Dawson also teaches Creating Comics and Graphic Novels at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Toronto.

Willow Dawson's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung

Fearless flying ace Billy Bishop and equally fearless suffragette Nellie McClung are given the graphic biography treatment in the excellent new books, Lone Hawk: The Story of Air Ace Billy Bishop and Hyena in Petticoats: The Story of Suffragette Nellie McClung.

In Lone Hawk, John Lang tells the story of Billy Bishop, the young soldier from Owen Sound, Ontario, who became one of the deadliest fighter pilots of the First World War. Bishop’s story is told in extreme close-up — the book is about his experience of the war, without reference to the war as a greater political event. It assumes that the reader already knows, or for the purposes of reading this book doesn’t need to know, the greater details about the war. It’s a compelling and humanizing method of storytelling. Lang’s black, white and grey art is detailed and particularly excellent in rendering the dogfighting scenes. Give this book to middle grade and teen readers looking for adventure or war stories, or anyone interested in the First World War.

Willow Dawson, creator of the excellent No Girls Allowed, tells the life story of early twentieth century feminist Nellie McClung in Hyena in Petticoats. The story follows Nellie from early childhood dreams, through marrying and becoming a mother, to her many political battles. Those battles included working for the franchise in Manitoba and Alberta, advocating for temperance laws and finally becoming one of the Famous Five involved in the “Persons Case.”

Dawson paints a portrait of the whole woman, including her struggle to balance her politics with family life. There is a certain amount of exposition necessary to explain why some of McClung’s actions were important, but it is well integrated into the story for the most part. Dawson’s stylized black-and-white art is gorgeously expressive. In an afterword, Dawson addresses some of McClung’s views and social campaigns that did not fit into the main story. Give this book to middle grade and teen readers who are interested in feminism, Canadian history or great comic art.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2012. Volume 35 No. 2.

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