Henry Holt and Company, 2014
The reviewer received a galley from the publisher.
Elementary school students are often assigned a project in which students are asked to choose a biography from the school or public library, read the book, then write a report or create a project that highlights the accomplishments of the person. As a school librarian, I am pleased when teachers require students go beyond the fiction section of the library to explore biographies. When ordering books, I'm always on the lookout for biographies that are meaty enough for the research project yet written in a manner that an elementary reader can access. Florence Nightingale by Demi is exactly that kind of book.
On page one, the author introduces the time and place (Florence, Italy in 1820), which provides young readers with an historical context. From an early age, Florence knew she wanted to become a nurse, but her wealthy parents did not approve. Eventually, Florence convinced her parents that she was determined to help others, and she worked in an orphanage in Germany where she became trained in nursing.
In just forty pages, Demi captures the importance of Nightingale's work as she transformed the terrible conditions of hospitals and battlefield infirmaries into healthy and hygienic places for patients to heal. Nightingale's theories about cleanliness and germs were used to train nurses in London and were put into practice in the Civil War in the U.S. The information is laid out in a clear, concise and chronological manner and contains enough facts for research assignments, and it will also satisfy readers who are interested in the history of medicine.
Young readers will enjoy Demi's intricate, patterned illustrations that reflect the 1800s. Demi's beautifully illustrated and accessible picture book biography is the perfect book to introduce Nightingale to a new generation of readers. Visit the Macmillan site to view pages from the book.