From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–The introduction asserts, Today most people either don't know who Jane Addams was, or they have only a vague idea, but the number of books published about her, especially juvenile titles, suggests that she is not such an obscure figure. What distinguishes this one is the broader context that the Fradins establish, placing Hull House and the activism of Addams and her friends within the sphere of the history they so clearly influenced. The past is consistently linked to the present by quantifying prices in today's values, explaining what life was like for the poor before government programs were available to help them, and detailing the specifics of life and politics in Chicago and the world in Addams's time. The scene is carefully set for her amazing role as a social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Opening with her garbage crusade against unsanitary conditions and entrenched politicians in Chicago, then jumping back to her life as a child in Cedarville, IL, and continuing in a linear format, anecdotal information carries the story. Thoughtful placement of quotes from her own testimony and descriptions of her personal quirks humanize her. Primary documents, mainly in the form of archival photos and direct quotes from letters, break up the text. Notes reveal that the authors conducted interviews and did extensive research to authenticate the stories–the detail of these notes will assist researchers seeking to pursue their sources.–Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library
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A fascinating and rich life is related in strong, unfussy prose by the Fradins. Known as Jennie as a child, the peace activist, founder of Hull House, and Nobel Prize winner felt like an ugly duckling. But college, Europe, and the discovery of good work that she could do in the city of Chicago transformed her. The settlement house she founded in 1889 provided a place for the poor to learn, to socialize, to share. She mobilized both workers and volunteers, wrote, spoke, studied, and raised funds. Most of the photographs are portraits; the text is enlivened when the images are those taken at Hull House or at marches. The narrative is smoothly written, and the opening anecdote, which describes how she became a garbage inspector of the Nineteenth Ward of Chicago in order to get the garbage picked up, is telling and draws readers into the story. Addams' bouts of depression and her deeply unpopular opposition to World War I are noted but do not unbalance the narrative. What shines is her everyday heroism, which changed lives. Excellent. GraceAnne DeCandidoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved