Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Susan Bivin Aller
Illustrator:  Tad Butler 
For ages 8 to 10
Lerner Publishing Group, 2007   ISBN: 978-0822576099

Born in Florence, Italy in 1820, Florence Nightingale had a very comfortable life living with her parents and her sister Parthe. Being the daughter of an affluent man, Florence was not expected to have a career when she grew up. It was assumed that she would be a society belle and that she would then marry and have children.

However, Florence had other ideas. She did not care for parties and other social events. When she was just sixteen God spoke to her, calling her "to his service." She was not yet sure what God wanted her to do but she knew that He somehow wanted her to help others.

Some time later Florence decided that the best way for her to serve was to train to become a nurse. Her family was appalled by this idea and, at first, they refused to allow her to pursue her dreams. But, eventually she was allowed to go to nursing school in Germany and when this was complete Florence's father gave her an allowance. She was finally free to do what was dear to her.

Florence took on the formidable job of managing a women's nursing home. She was planning to start her own nursing school when she was asked to help in the terrible war hospitals in the Crimea. After just a week of packing and preparing, Florence and thirty-eight nurses set off.

This well written biography not only describes Florence Nightingale's life and work, but it also shows readers that Florence had to overcome many obstacles to be allowed to do her nursing work. Young women of her class were not supposed to do anything outside the home and they certainly were not supposed to work in the medical field which was dirty, dangerous, and very unladylike.

Packed with illustrations, maps, and period photographs, this "History Maker Bios" titles tells its story in an interesting way.