Middle-Grade Biographies

Charlotte Bronte and Jane EyreCharlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre by Stewart Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember why I loved biographies as a young reader. This detailed, very honest look at Charlotte Bronte was wonderful. As an adult, I find “grown-up” biographies pretty pedantic and boring. But these biographies designed for middle-grade readers are so much more succinct. I love “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” (by Emily Bronte) and much prefer their dark gothic style to simpering Jane Austin literature. But everything I had ever read about the Bronte’s had described them as also simpering and reclusive. This novel however, presented Charlotte as the tough, independent and impatient personality I would have expected from the creator of Jane Eyre. The author did a great job of connecting her life with the details from her fictional works. This would be a great quick kick-off to a study of Jane Eyre.

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John Brown: His Fight for FreedomJohn Brown: His Fight for Freedom by John Hendrix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love the style of this illustrator. This particular book he is the author and illustrator and I like it better than the ones that he collaborated with another author.
John Brown is a very interesting figure in American History. Unfortunately, he was destined to serve as a martyr. He is often portrayed as a crazy man of violence. In truth, his crusade does dissolve into mayhem. Was this the only choice? Probably, considering the entire country eventually feel victim to a bloody Civil War in pursuit, of this crusade. I am fascinated by a figure that chose to fight another man’s battle to the death.
Hendrix does a good job of describing this man and his era in a quick and succinct manner. In spite of the “picture book” style, I would still consider this for older middle-grade readers.

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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War HeroNurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This rating might be closer to 2.75. But I can’t seem to bring it up to 3. I was really looking forward to this book. I had seen the Illustrator interviewed and was fascinated by his art. Also, it fit my passion for historical medical/nursing content. I don’t know why, but it left me slightly disturbed. It felt so weird that this woman was able to pass as a man so completely. I found myself staring at the illustrations trying to see the woman in there. There were also a couple of real photos of Sarah Edmonds as a man and as a woman, and even those perplexed me. I wonder how a young audience would react. Just an unusual choice of characters to present I guess. I couldn’t tell you any of the actual facts presented so I was totally distracted.

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