May 6, 2013
Louisa May’s Battle by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Carlyn Beccia
Louisa May’s Battle:
How the Civil War Led to Little Women
by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Carlyn Beccia
Walker Books for Young Readers
So many of our classic books seem to come from a softer, gentler time and the same is true of Little Women. After all, it’s impossible to imagine Meg or Jo or any of the sisters swinging a sword or shooting fellow competitors with a bow and arrow. Yet, this book came to us largely because of the author’s experience in the Civil War.
Before the war, Louise May was a teacher and a writer. Although she had published books, she still got rejection letters including one that said “Stick to your teaching; you can’t write.”
During her time as a nurse, she proved this person wrong.
Louisa wanted to do her part to support her country but she wasn’t a man, so she couldn’t find. Still she could take care of those who had been injured while fighting so she signed on as a nurse. Many of her patients were ill. Others had massive injuries. Louisa change bandages, bathed foreheads and distributed medicine and food. She held men’s hands during surgery and did her best to make them comfortable while they healed or while they died.
When she wasn’t working, she wrote letters home to her family. Eventually these letters would be published as a book. Readers liked the first hand accounts and her ability to see humor even in horrible situations. Shortly after the war, Louisa was asked to write a girl’s book but she wanted to write a book like no one had ever seen.
Krull shows the sincere courage with which Louisa May Alcott lived her life. It is so easy for those of us today too look back and think about the good old days. We tend to romanticize the hardships that these people faced.
Beccia’s art work shows a woman who was both warm and just a bit mischievous.
Share this book with a child who is struggling to meet a goal or even to find just what that goal should be. Fans of Little Women and writers struggling to publish will identify with this book as well.