Sunday, September 20, 2020

Picture book biographies of two women who made a difference: Frances Perkins & Jane Adams

Dangerous Jane: The Life and Times of Jane Adams Crusader for Peace by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Alice Ratterree 

My thoughts: 
Dangerous Jane is a beautifully illustrated story of a women born into a life of affluence. As a child, she had personal tragedies that molded her personality but didn't break her. Her mother died when Jane was two years old and a few years later Jane had what they thought might be tuberculosis which left her body deformed. She felt she was ugly and unwanted.

But then she saw the need - exceptional need - of the poor and poverty stricken people in her city. She became a person of real compassion and in adulthood turned that compassion into good works.

Later in her adult life, she traveled in Europe on behalf of the suffering people there. These people were also those with whom the United States battled during WWI. This drew opposition toward Jane.

She lived into old age continuing her good works on behalf of the poor. 

This is an exceptional children's book about an exceptional woman. A must for school and public libraries.

About the book: Jane's heart ached for the world, but what could she do to stop a war?

This energetic and inspiring picture book biography of activist Jane Addams focuses on the peace work that won her the Nobel Peace Prize. From the time she was a child, Jane's heart ached for others. At first the focus of her efforts was on poverty, and lead to the creation of Hull House, the settlement house she built in Chicago. For twenty-five years, she'd helped people from different countries live in peace at Hull House. But when war broke out, Jane decided to take on the world and become a dangerous woman for the sake of peace.

Suzanne Slade's powerful text written in free verse illuminates the life of this inspiring figure while Alice Ratterree's stunning illustrations bring Jane Addams and her world to life.

Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers' Rights by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Kristy Caldwell

My thoughts: 
As this book opens with a challenge to the young reader to consider the math of calculating when they, the reader, will qualify to receive Social Security Retirement Benefits. Unless you already know the major achievement of Frances Perkins, you may wonder just why that is an important thought to process in a biographic picture book.

Frances Perkins was born in 1880 in Boston into a home that valued education. Although women were not considered needful of education beyond the basics, her father thoroughly educated Frances. She ultimately received a Masters Degree. An amazing achievement for that time. 

But she was also taught by her parents to be a caring individual with a responsibility to help those in need at every opportunity. As a young woman, she saw the plight of young and older women working in factories - extremely long hours and under dreadful conditions. She sought ways to improve circumstances for them. This led to being appointed by the Governor of New York as a social director to improve conditions. So began her plan that worked in New York and led to her position in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Cabinet. An as part of the President's team, she developed the Social Security System.

This is an amazing story about an amazing woman. A book that needs to be in every school and public library.

About the book: How many years will it be until you turn sixty-two? What year will that be? Once you've read Thanks to Frances Perkins, you'll know why these are important questions--and why you may want to thank Frances Perkins.

After Frances Perkins witnessed the Triangle Waist Factory fire in 1911, she was forever changed. While some activists pressed factory owners for change, Frances decided to work to bring about new laws that would force employers to treat people better and make workplaces safer. When she became Secretary of Labor in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration--the first woman cabinet member--Frances had the opportunity to make real her bold vision of a country where no one was left out. As a result of the Social Security program that she created, we have built a society where we help one another.

Deborah Hopkinson's energetic text and Kristy Caldwell's appealing illustrations introduce readers to a fascinating woman who has changed many American lives. Back matter features more information about Frances Perkins, Social Security, and resources for economic education.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

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