Twenty-five men and women who questioned conventional wisdom and made a difference are profiled in this well-meant collective biography.
Offering these lives as role models for young readers, Humphrey invites their attention by asking them to imagine themselves in a particular situation with a particular dream or idea. From Christopher Columbus to Neil Armstrong, her heroes and heroines are presented roughly chronologically. The profiles of Albert Einstein and Jackie Robinson, also described in Dare to Dream (2005, not reviewed), have been rewritten. These overviews are sometimes oversimplified. Harriet Tubman is described as a Civil War nurse, but she didn’t nurse on the battlefield, as Clara Barton did, a difference that matters to Barton’s story, the very next profile. The Rosa Parks section restates the myth that she “stood alone” in a spontaneous decision not to move back further on the bus. The writing is awkward and repetitive; occasionally words are misused. Nikola Tesla did not “claim” that radio waves could locate moving objects, he proposed that use which we now call radar. Sometimes, toward the end of a section, the author brings up revisionist thinking about the person’s achievements but then drops the issue, reiterating their importance. A poem, source notes for quotations and an extensive bibliography intermingling books for children and adults complete this pedestrian resource.Less than inspirational. (Collective biography. 11-15)