Operation Clean Sweep Reviews


Annie Glove Cover




Kansas State Reading Circle 2006 Recommended Book
Amelia Bloomer Book Award--or books with a strong female role model

Darleen Bailey Beard's lively, heartwarming story, based on a true episode that brought nationwide attention to women's  suffrage, is told by a twelve-year-old boy torn between love for his mother and loyalty to his father at the time when women were just getting  into politics and the United States was about to enter World War I.


Operation Clean Sweep has been selected for the 2007-2008 Young Hoosier Book Award. The Young Hoosier Book Award is sponsored by the Association for Indiana Media Educators (AIME). Students will read titles during the 2007-2008 school year and vote for their favorites in spring 2008. The award winners will be announced in May 2008.

On December 5, 2006, Darleen and her daughter, Karalee, went to see a play ofOperation Clean Sweep at the high school in Umatilla, Oregon. The play was a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the famous Umatilla election --December 5, 1916--when the women ran for office and took their town by surprise! The woman sitting next to Darleen is Erma Ostrom who was personal friends with several of the women who were elected in office.




This is Darleen with Arnie Merrick. Arnie is the grandson of Lola Merrick, who was one of the women elected for office on that cold December day in 1916.  He had no idea his grandmother held office. His grandmother didn't tell him and neither did his grandfather. No one told him this until he did some research and found out the scoop. He and his wife, Dolly, came to attend the play, and, of course, to get a copy of Darleen's book.

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Hardcover: 160 pages 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 9, 2004) 
Language: English 
ISBN: 0374380341 
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches 
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Cornelius Sanwick, 12, is in a quandary. His father is mayor of Umatilla, OR, and running for reelection. Now Corn has found out that his mother is secretly campaigning for the same position. The year is 1916, and Oregon is one of only 11 states that have given women the right to vote. The boy doesn't know which parent to support, but he realizes that his mother is likely to win because the town has more women than men. Should he tell his father about his mom's secret plan? This story is based on an actual event that brought national attention to Umatilla and women's suffrage. The story moves along quite well and is fueled by several subplots concerning a villainous pickpocket, Cornelius's interest in a classmate, and various school assignments that give readers not only a sense of the time period, but also common experiences with which to identify. Most fiction titles on women's suffrage are from a girl's viewpoint, so Corn's point of view gives the subject another dimension. The boy's dilemma keeps him thinking and questioning where he stands on women in politics and his decisions seem realistically made as he begins to change his attitude. The book has larger-than-usual type and is lots of fun. A great addition to historical-fiction collections.--
Elaine Lesh Morgan, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-6. When 12-year-old Cornelius Sanwick overhears his mother and her friends discussing the upcoming election in Umatilla, Oregon, he learns that she is secretly running for mayor against his father, the incumbent. The women are disgusted with the way the men have managed municipal issues and now that it's 1916, they intend to make a clean sweep of the local public offices. Corn is caught between agreeing with his mother about the town's problems and feeling disloyal to his father by keeping secret what he knows. Beard's story, based on real events, features believable characters, strong local color, and a plot that gently makes its point without offending anyone. Subplots--involving a good friend with an annoying habit; Corn's first love; and a notorious pickpocket, Sticky Fingers Fred--round out the action. A timely choice for classroom read-alouds, this might spark discussions about equal rights, suffragettes, or campaign tactics.Kay Weisman

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

The 2006-2007 South Carolina Children's Book Award web site has suggested the following activities for Operation Clean Sweep:


Operation Clean Sweep is about a boy named Corn. It takes place during the period when women are earning the right to vote. Corn’s dad is the mayor of Umatilla, Oregon. The women in his community are going to earn the right to vote by nominating Corn’s mom to be the new mayor. After the women find out he overheard their plan, they make him promise not to tell anyone. Corn has to decide if he should tell his dad or keep the promise.


  • You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? By Jean Fritz
  • Learning About Fairness from the Life of Susan B. Anthony 
    by Kiki Mosher
  • Girls Can Be Anything They Want by Patricia Foote
  • Meet Samantha: An American Girl by Susan Adler


Language Arts:

Write a persuasive paper on why women should or should not have the right to vote.

Social Studies:

Compare/Contrast voting in the late 1800’s and present day.


Choose a topic to hold a vote on. Conduct the vote, count the votes, find averages, etc.




I’m Birdine. I am one of the committee members of the women’s group, Operation Clean Sweep. We are trying to get the community to let us vote. We are going to nominate Corn’s mom to become mayor. She didn’t like the idea at first, but she said she would do whatever would help the committee. Corn heard our plan, but we made him promise not to tell anyone. I hope he keeps his promise. Read what else goes on in Operation Clean Sweep.--Prepared by Beth Poole


    I am attaching the photo of you and Brandon. (Brandon won a free autographed copy ofOperation Clean Sweep!) . . . Thanks again for  sharing your expertise with our students. Your input had such an impact on our students; they are still talking about you and how much they enjoyedOperation Clean Sweep. Take care and have a great holiday season!

        --Ellen Lack, Library Media Specialist,
        Wilson Elementary, Norman OK