Demi wields her gifts to celebrate Florence Nightingale, who transformed the care of the sick and injured.
Florence Nightingale was born to wealthy English parents in Florence, Italy, and from an early age studied nursing and the care of the sick. As her family traveled from England to Italy, France and Germany, she visited hospitals and poorhouses to teach herself and to compare healing strategies. She went to Turkey to assist injured soldiers from the Crimean War, working to ensure sanitary conditions and to make healthful food and medicines available. The text is direct and clear, conveying complex information fluidly. Demi’s pictures feature her exquisite line and magnificent use of color, manipulating the flat, decorative space she uses to advance the story. She makes beautiful decorative patterns out of difficult and sometimes horrific situations. Nurses cleaning, scrubbing, comforting and assisting are directed by Nightingale, always pictured in a midnight-blue dress or cloak. One astonishing, gutsy double-page spread depicts the war hospital in Turkey. Leaking walls, rats, garbage and overflowing chamber pots among the stricken soldiers make a formal backdrop to officials rebuffing Nightingale and her nurses. With the turn of the page, readers see the changes in cleanliness, care and mood Nightingale effected.
Characteristically beautiful illustrations nevertheless provide a pull-no-punches appreciation of the Lady with the Lamp. (timeline, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 7-11)