Reviews for Louisa May's Battle : How the Civil War Led to Little Women

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
At 30 years old, Louisa May Alcott traveled to Washington, D.C., to nurse wounded soldiers at a Union hospital. Though inexperienced and unprepared for conditions there, she made herself useful by feeding, bathing, and comforting the men. After only weeks on the job, Alcott contracted a near-fatal case of typhoid. She recovered and began writing in hopes of paying her family's bills. Hospital Sketches, a successful book based on her letters home from Washington, was followed by Little Women, which brought financial security and literary immortality. Krull offers a lively account of Alcott's experiences as she traveled to Washington, served at the hospital, and found her style as a writer. While the large-scale, richly colored illustrations, "created with Corel Painter digital oils," are uneven in their effectiveness, this picture book offers a new slant on the Civil War and on Alcott's life. Back matter includes articles on women in medicine during the period and on the Battle of Fredericksburg, along with a source bibliography and lists of books and websites. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Alcott's experience as a Civil War nurse is recounted in this candid picture-book biography with realistic, somewhat static digital oil paintings that reflect the hardship and horror of a run-down makeshift hospital. Her own near-death illness provides impetus, following Alcott's long recovery, for her successful writing career, first with the publication of letters before her greatest achievement, Little Women. Reading list, websites.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #2
During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott served as a volunteer nurse, caring for Union soldiers in Washington, D.C., between December 12, 1862, and January 21, 1863. This well-researched biographical vignette explores the brief but pivotal episode in Alcott's life. An abolitionist, Alcott longed to fight in the Union Army, but she did her part by serving as a nurse. Alcott met the female nursing requirements: She was 30, plain, strong and unmarried. Krull describes her challenging solo journey from Massachusetts by train and ship and her lonely arrival in Washington at the "overcrowded, damp, dark, airless" hospital. For three weeks she nursed and provided "motherly" support for her "boys" before succumbing to typhoid fever, forcing her to return to Massachusetts. Krull shows how Alcott's short tenure as a nurse affected her life, inspiring her to publish letters she sent home as Hospital Sketches. This honest account of the war earned rave reviews and taught Alcott to use her own experiences in her writing, leading to Little Women. Peppered with Alcott's own words, the straightforward text is enhanced by bold, realistic illustrations rendered in digital oils on gessoed canvas. A somber palette reinforces the grim wartime atmosphere, dramatically highlighting Alcott in her red cape and white nurse's apron. An insightful glimpse into a key period in Alcott's life and women in nursing. (notes on women in medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg, sources, map) (Picture book/biography. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 2-5--This picture-book biography concentrates on Alcott's service as a Civil War nurse. The journey from her home in Massachusetts to a hospital in Washington, DC, was difficult and eye-opening. Arriving to harsh conditions and a constant stream of wounded soldiers, Alcott dealt with her situation by writing about it. Explaining how the experience shaped her sensibilities and led to the publication of her first successful book, Hospital Sketches, Krull makes the case that Little Women may not have happened without her subject's Civil War involvement. Digital oils on gessoed canvas were used to create the images. Alcott appears slightly idealized, attractive but not beautiful. The wartime palette is somber and dark, but the protagonist is often wearing something with a red or white accent to make her stand out. Her figure consistently commands the eye. In the last few pictures, when the war has ended and Alcott has achieved success, the colors are much brighter and convey a more cheerful mood. To help readers understand the larger context of the time, notes about women in 19th-century medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg are included. This portrait is brief but compelling, and it may inspire readers to seek out more information about a groundbreaking author.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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