Louisa May’s Battle by Kathleen Krull

Louisa May’s Battle:  How the Civil War Led to Little Women by Kathleen Krull is a picture book biography that focuses on Louisa May Alcott’s involvement in the Civil War as a nurse and how her experiences there led to the discovery of her voice and style as a writer, which in turn enabled her to write her wildly successful novel, Little Women.  Krull makes liberal use of quotations from Alcott’s Hospital Sketches and an article by Alcott entitled “Recollections of My Childhood” throughout this biography.  Because of the quotes, a sense of Alcott’s lively personality and her voice as a writer shine through.  I learned a lot from reading this picture book, having never read much about Alcott’s life before, and it really made me appreciate how her own experiences influenced her writing.  Additional backmatter in this book includes a page-long essay discussing various women in medicine during the Civil War, many of whom were inspired to get in on the action by Alcott’s Hospital Sketches.   Also included is a lengthy bibliography.  Carlyn Beccia‘s illustrations are luminously portrait-like  and expressive, an excellent companion to this interesting story.  (Side note:  We really enjoyed Beccia’s I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat last year!)  Highly Recommended.  (Bloomsbury, 2013)