Eliza Hamilton’s life is summarized, along with some fictionalized episodes intended to illuminate her character and accomplishments.
Andros uses an extended metaphor of seeds and trees to frame Eliza’s long and eventful life. This view of human resilience as stemming from strong roots, along with sophisticated vocabulary and the breadth of Eliza’s experiences, may require some explication for young listeners. Repetition of words and ideas and a lyrical flow to the text, however, ensure that listening will be a pleasure even if understanding takes some extra effort. Blackham’s matte, naïve-style illustrations vary in size and placement, including double-page spreads, single-page pictures, and spot illustrations. The subdued palette appears appropriate to the era; details of costume and setting also serve to anchor the story in time. Eliza is first shown as an energetic, smiling, dark-haired, pale-skinned girl with loving parents. Her empathy for those less fortunate is shown in a drably colored (imagined) interaction with an unnamed white orphan boy. Growth from child to young woman follows quickly, summarized on a two-page spread that shows her eight times against the same simple background, a checkerboard floor. Her marriage to Alexander Hamilton, the birth and raising of their children, the loss of her husband, and her subsequent child welfare work are briefly outlined and illustrated in the remaining pages; the last activity introduces the only characters of color depicted.
An accessible and engaging portrait of a remarkable historical figure. (author’s note, artist’s note, bibliography) (Biography. 6-8)