Jane Addams’ life was dedicated to helping others.
Jane Addams knew how it felt to be sad, lonely, and in pain. Her mother died when Jane was 2, and Jane contracted spinal tuberculosis at age 4, leaving her with a crooked back and toes that pointed in. “She felt like the ugly duckling / in her storybook: / different, / unwanted, / hopeless.” So, when she rode into town with her father and saw the poverty other people faced—“the rundown shacks, / sad, hungry parents, / cold, barefoot children”—the beginnings of her social conscience were stirred. She got a good education, traveled throughout Europe, and committed herself to helping the poor. Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London, inspired her to establish the now-famous Hull House in Chicago. At first Jane was beloved, the New York Evening Post even suggesting she run for president. But Addams became controversial for her peace efforts during World War I, and the FBI labeled her “the Most Dangerous Woman in America.” However, she went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Slade tells the purposively inspiring story with a poetic flair, and Ratterree’s pale, evocatively washed-out watercolor illustrations are richly detailed (though hands seem to be her nemesis as an artist). They make the most of the book’s oversize trim, giving space to the free-verse text. A “More about Dangerous Jane” section mostly retells the story, with a few new details added.
An attractive volume introducing an important American to young readers. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)