Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Clara Barton: Spirit of the Red Cross

Clara Barton: Spirit of the Red Cross

Patricia Lakin
Illustrator:  Simon Sullivan 
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2004   ISBN: 978-0689865138

Though Clara Barton became a well know personality when she grew up and met lots of famous people, she was shy a retiring child. She loved to read and was "good at sports and horseback riding." The youngest of five children Clara bossed around a good deal by her brothers and sister. Partly because of this Clara had very little confidence in herself and became more and more withdrawn as time passed. Except when someone or something was sick. At such times Clara came into her own.

When she was a young woman is was decided that she should become a teacher. Surprisingly she did very well in this job and was well liked by her students. The school authorities were not so enthusiastic as they did not like the way Clara tried to advance her career. This was not considered to be acceptable behavior for a woman.

When the Civil War broke out Clara found that she had a great deal to offer those in need of help. She collected much needed supplies for the soldiers working hard to make sure that they had enough clothing and medical supplies. Then she began doing what she could for the soldiers in the field. Far too many men were dying from lack of care and Clara was determined that the field conditions had to be improved.

Even after the was over Clara continued to advocate for "her boys," her soldiers. She visited Switzerland and there she met the founder of the Red Cross. After working for the organization for some time, Clara decided to come back to United States to found an American chapter of the Red Cross.

This inspirational story will show young readers how a small shy woman who had very little self confidence was able to change a great deal because of her courage and determination to make the world a better place. Not only did she create a Red Cross to help American soldiers, but she also expanded the mandate of the Red Cross to include victims of natural disasters as well as victims of war.

Simply and poignantly written, this title in the "Stories of Famous Americans" series, is a wonderful book for young readers.