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Louisa : the life of Louisa May Alcott

by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Reviews

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 3-6-McDonough has captured the essence of Alcott's fascinating life story in this picture book. Her narrative is anecdotal, focusing on events that influenced the writer's life and work. For example, she explains that Alcott was once saved from drowning by a "kind black boy" and how that experience motivated her abolitionist efforts later in life. The writing is simple, straightforward, and well paced. The author gives a balanced treatment of Alcott's early, middle, and later life. Interesting supplemental material includes a recipe for Alcott's favorite dessert. Andersen's stylized illustrations are done in warm oranges, rich blues, and dark greens. Rather than being pictorially or historically precise, they reflect the mood of the text by varying proportions and adding textures. The resulting images are bold, intense, and dramatic. Alexandra Wallner's An Alcott Family Christmas (Holiday House, 1996) is similar in length and reading level but focuses on just one year in Alcott's childhood. Christin Ditchfield's Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women (Children's Press, 2005) is a good choice for report writers. McDonough's title is for those looking for a short, accessible introduction to an amazing life.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Growing up in an unconventional family whose idealistic father was sometimes unable to support his wife and four daughters, Louisa May Alcott became determined to earn enough for herself and those she loved. As an adult, she worked as a Civil War nurse in Washington, D.C., until she contracted typhoid fever. The popular success of her writing, beginning with Little Women, allowed her to travel and to help her family. In this book, which uses a picture-book format, McDonough clearly lays out the essentials of Alcott's life story. Often striking and occasionally memorable, Andersen's gouache-and-pastel illustrations use strong shapes and rich colors to create iconic images. Textured gold backgrounds, dynamic and luminous, isolate the people portrayed from their everyday surroundings and intensify the pictures' emotional content. The extensive back matter includes a dozen lively quotes and two short poems from Alcott, some additional facts, a chronology, a bibliography of children's books, and a recipe for New England Apple Slump.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2009 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Enchanting gouache and pastel paintings adorn this thorough biography of Little Women author Alcott. Painted in a somewhat naOve style with elongated, flowing lines, single portraits of Alcott dominate several of Andersen's (Patience Wright) spreads. Natural elements like feathers and flowers pattern her dresses and decorate the background, evoking her love of nature. While the fluid compositions evoke a carefree tone, textured gold backdrops, dark hues and serious facial expressions underscore the sadness and disappointments of Alcott's short life, including a sister's early death and her family's poverty. McDonough's (The Doll with the Yellow Star) plainspoken narrative, confined to filmy, rectangular canvases on each page, provides numerous anecdotes to keep the story paced and interesting. Readers learn of her father's alternative, ahead-of-his-time views on education and diet, as well as Louisa's efforts to help her impoverished family with finances ("Once she tried to earn money as a doll's dressmaker. She chased the neighbor's hens for their feathers and made fancy dolls' hats to sell"). Endnotes provide a time line, some of the author's quotations and early poetry, and even a favorite recipe for "apple slump." Ages 6-10. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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