From Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Meltzer has once again crafted a thoughtful life story, this one a portrait that encompasses the many facets and accomplishments of Carl Sandburg. He begins with the poet's birth in 1878 to struggling Swedish immigrant parents in Illinois. Sandburg left school at age 14, and his first few jobs would set the standard that he followed for much of his life: working with his hands to sustain his imagination. After serving in the Spanish-American War, he enrolled in college, where his love of writing was nurtured and his ideas about the growing divide between the "haves" and "have nots" began to be formulated. These impressions would define much of his work as a newspaper reporter, socialist activist, author, and especially poet, and Meltzer gives equal attention to all of these activities. He describes Sandburg's writing in the context of the man's experiences and reactions to social injustice. This fine biography provides a wide-ranging account of Sandburg's life, and also of his times. Black-and-white photographs are scattered throughout. A thorough selected bibliography and adequate index complete the book.
Carol Fazioli, The Brearley School, New York City
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Thoughtful readers will find this a probing, inspirational study of a quintessentially American poet from Meltzer (Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?, 1991, etc.), another writer passionate about social issues in American history. Raised on the edge of poverty, Sandburg held a plethora of jobs (a chapter heading: ``What didn't he do?''), spent many years as a journalist/lecturer specializing in labor abuses, socialist causes, and racial conflict (he was also one of the first film critics), until at last his poetry caught on. He then, along with his ``Rootabaga'' tales, labored over an epochal magnum opus that cast Abraham Lincoln as an American folk hero. Quoting only just enough of Sandburg's writing to give readers a taste, Meltzer focuses on his subject's literary and intellectual influences, casts side glances at his family, and offers evenhanded judgments of his sometimes-uneven work (Sandburg said, ``being a poet is a damned dangerous business. Here and there you are good, and here and there you are not''). The black-and-white photographs are portraits, mostly, with an occasional manuscript or title page mixed in; the book closes with a generous but not overwhelming bibliography. (index) (Biography. 12-14) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.