reviews and more about historical fiction and history-related non-fiction for children and teens
Monday, March 3, 2014
Women's History Month Book Review: Florence Nightingale, by Demi (Henry Holt, 2014)
Women's History Month began on Saturday, March 1. You can learn more about
outstanding children's books on women's history by following the 4th
annual group blog which I co-organize with fellow blogger/librarian Lisa Taylor, Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month, Once
again we will feature
posts from distinguished authors, illustrators, librarians and
bloggers, and we invite you to participate in the conversation. This year's contributors will include authors Tonya Bolden,Sandra Neil Wallace and Gretchen Woelfie, librarian Penny Peck, and many others. In addition to the blog, you can
also access our content on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
While new content is published only in March, the blog is available all
year long as a resource for librarians, parents, and educators. Please join us in our 4th annual celebration!
Here at the Fourth Musketeer I will also be highlighting books about women in history this month. Today I will be reviewing Demi's newest book on Florence Nightingale. Demi
has published over 150 books during her long career, many of them large
format biographical picture books aimed at elementary school-aged
students. In addition to their informative text, Demi's biographies showcase her
unique artistic style, which features a strong Asian influence, traditional materials, intricate patterns, and vibrant, glowing colors.
When I was a girl in the 1960's and '70's, Florence Nightingale would have been one of the only women from history you would have been likely to find a book on in the children's biography section of your local library, although I would be reasonably certain that I could not have found a biography as beautifully illustrated as this new one. On the end pages and title page, we see Florence as the iconic Lady of the Lamp. The book unfolds in a traditional linear narrative, beginning with Florence's birth and girlhood. She was born into a very wealthy British family, where she had all the advantages of an upper class upbringing. But her interest in nursing and helping others began at a young age; Demi shows us Florence as a little girl playing hospital with her dolls. Her interest in nursing intensified on a family trip to the Continent when in addition to seeing the tourist sights, she visited hospitals and charities. Her parents were opposed to her becoming a nurse, but eventually relented when they saw her commitment.
Demi's text and artwork show Florence's career progressing from working at a hospital for indigent women to her groundbreaking work nursing soldiers in the Crimean War, where she arranged for patients to get healthy food and water and stressed the need for cleanliness. We see Florence wandering the wards at night with her lantern, earning her nickname, The Lady with the Lamp.
Florence worked herself to exhaustion and suffered ill health later in her life. Nonetheless, she continued to work for the poor and downtrodden in society, and inspired the founding of the International Red Cross.
Demi's book not only provides an outline of Florence Nightingale's remarkable life but also considers her legacy as an extraordinary woman in history. Back matter includes a timeline and suggestions for further reading.
This slim but powerful volume is a must for school and public libraries.
I am currently working as a children's librarian in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. For more on my background, click on my photo to go to my About Me page. You can reach me by commenting on this blog or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to send me a galley, please contact me for my mailing address.
Some of the books reviewed were received as advance review copies from Amazon Vine or directly from the publisher. Others may have been purchased or checked out from the library. I am willing to receive copies of appropriate books from publishers for review on this blog. Please contact me for further information.