Florence Nightingale by Catherine Reef
”Place doesn’t need woman’s touch, needs disinfectant or complete burn #CrimeanWarSurvivor #howdoyougetbloodoutofVictoriandress #ScutariSucks.” FloBird, on Twitter
I am enjoying the increase in kids non-fiction….NF for younger readers tend to be more dynamic with more liberal use of narrative methodology. Florence Nightengale, though, was a back to basics kinda girl and this biography for middle years reader reflects that. The book is expertly researched with copious end notes citing the original documentation. I cannot fault the author for her history. But I did not find it compelling enough to finish quickly. I feel there was a missed chance here to interject some intriguing science into a history lovers/books readers world. Instead this reads like an encyclopedic entry, minus any difficult words and without the extensive cross references. The narrative is just not compelling. For a chick who dealt with blood and guts, the horrors of war, being a woman in a man’s world, I think there must have been SOMETHING that could have been effectively used to hook the reader.
For pleasure readers, only Flo’s best fans will come away from this book happy, as it does extensively use her original writings. For educators, this book would be best as a 5-8th grade vehicle into Victorian Era politics, Crimean war, colonialism, the biology of disease and prevention and women as contributors in history. I myself wouldn’t teach it alone but as a means of tying these subjects together.
3 for reading it all the way through, though not in one sitting
2 for narrative arc since the author made no effort to generate suspense or intrigue
4 for expanding my horizons since although I felt no need to look anything up, I feel confident in the accuracy of the information since the book is meticulously annotated
2 for humor/cleverness since nothing was a standout and some of the more interesting events in Flo’s life probably could have been relayed with more enthusiasm.
3 for voice as the author was unenergetic, historical and didactic in her delivery.