This distinguished writer, best known for her retellings of folklore and myth (including the Caldecott winner St. George and the Dragon), uses her narrative skill to bring a uniquely American family to memorable life. The Sherwoods of Cornwall, N.Y., are examined here in a format that devotes a chapter to each of the five children--four daughters and a son--introduced by a section focusing on their remarkable mother. Mary Sherwood--widowed early--raised her children on her own, with help from relatives and such influential friends as the Delano Roosevelts. Each child became a success in the old-fashioned sense, with triumphs in service and respect rather than in wealth. Hodges traces their struggles and their achievements, sensitively depicting both the positive and the negative aspects of being part of such a strong, tightknit family. This American story is set in the context of the battles for the rights of women, for conservation, and for helping the less fortunate. By showing children struggling to carry on their parents' ideals, Hodges has written an exemplary biography in the best sense: a hopeful account of honorably lived lives. Family photos; index.