Illustrator: Carlyn Beccia
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Grades 3rd to 5th
Nonfiction * Women's History * American History * Famous Authors
Description on GoodReads:
Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning Little Women, but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as Hospital Sketches, she had her first success as a writer. The acclaim for her new writing style inspired her to use this approach in Little Women, which was one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. It was the book that made her dreams come true, and a story she could never have written without the time she spent healing others in service of her country
My thoughts on the book:
One of my favorite authors when I was in 5th grade was Louisa May Alcott. I read and loved Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, and Eight Cousins. However, I never really bothered to look into who Louisa May Alcott was or what influenced her as a woman and writer. Recently, I read the biographical picture book Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Henry Holt, and Co., 2009) I found the book fascinating and the historical information interesting.
In Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women, Kathleen Krull focuses on Alcott's experiences as a nurse during the Civil War and how it influenced her as a person and also as a writer. Krull brings to life Alcott's experience from the train ride to the her travels on a ship to her experience tending soldiers. Unfortunately, Alcott wasn't immune from the illnesses facing the men and boys she was caring for. Several weeks in, she became ill with Typhoid fever. Alcott was never quite the same after her illness, but when she was well enough to consider work again, she began revisiting her writing with more success than she had before.
The combination of Krull's text accompanied by Beccia's paintings make this book a success for me. Krull provides additional sources at the end as well as some additional information of Women in Medicine. This is a great addition for any classroom or school library, and a wonderful book to celebrate Women's History Month.
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