From her apparently inexhaustible font of family stories, Polacco chooses one about Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross and a distant relative by marriage.
Clara is born on Christmas Day 1821 and mostly raised by her siblings, though aside from mentioning that her mother was ill, no real reason is given for this. Her intense shyness is attributed to a severe lisp, which leads to her education at home. Young Clara loves to study and to work with animals and flowers, displaying a gift for healing early on. When her brother Davie, who took her everywhere and taught her everything, falls from a barn beam and breaks both legs, Clara sets the bones and cares for him for two years. It is that care and healing that Polacco centers this story on. The pictures are done in Polacco’s vivid, vibrant pencil, marker and acrylics, with exaggerated gestures and abundant details. The dialogue is occasionally a bit over-the-top: "Davie, I know you can walk. You have always told me that I have a gift of healing. Unless you try to walk, I'll never believe that again." An author’s note outlines Barton’s founding of the American Red Cross and her work with soldiers during the Civil War. The abundance of dialogue and absence of specific sources makes this book problematic for use as nonfiction.
Not up to Polacco’s usual standard. (Picture book. 7-10)