Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield

Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield

Allison Lassieur
Illustrator:  Brian Bascle 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2005   ISBN: 978-0736846325

From the very beginning Clara was a very determined girl who fought to overcome her fears. She loved to hear her father’s war stories and said that she too would like to be a soldier like he had been. Of course she was told that, as she was "a girl" she couldn’t be a soldier. As she grew older Clara learned that there were lots of things that a girl or young woman could not do. Clara took on one of the few professions that were open to women at that time - she became a teacher. Clara was very good at this, in fact she was so good that she became a principal. Then she ran into difficulties because the townspeople did not want a woman to have such an important role in the community.

Clara took a new job in Washington D.C. and was there when the Civil War broke out. Like so many other women Clara did all she could to help but Clara took her job very seriously and took it to another level. Clara worked to get supplies for the soldiers who were poorly clothed, badly fed, and often sick. The men who got wounded in battle often had to do without basic medical supplies because there were none, and because of this many died needlessly. Clara worked tirelessly to fill this need persuading the military and the government that she had much to offer.

When the war came to an end Clara had a hard time finding a place for herself except when she could do something to help soldiers on a battlefield. Then Clara found herself a new cause to fight for - persuading the American people that they needed to have Red Cross chapters in their country. Clara had seen what the Red Cross could do in times of war and when there were natural disasters and she was sure that America would greatly benefit from having such an organization in the country.

This well written biography for 8 to 10 year olds brings Clara Barton’s struggle to life showing the reader that she had many trials to face including ill health, depression, prejudice, and having to deal with a society that did not like to see women taking on roles that were considered ‘unwomanly.’ Presented in a graphic comic format, this is one of the titles from the excellent "Graphic Library" series which makes history and biographies accessible to even the most reluctant readers.