School Library Journal
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Gr 6 Up-The introduction asserts, "Today most people either don't know who Jane Addams was, or they have only a vague idea," but the number of books published about her, especially juvenile titles, suggests that she is not such an obscure figure. What distinguishes this one is the broader context that the Fradins establish, placing Hull House and the activism of Addams and her friends within the sphere of the history they so clearly influenced. The past is consistently linked to the present by quantifying prices in today's values, explaining what life was like for the poor before government programs were available to help them, and detailing the specifics of life and politics in Chicago and the world in Addams's time. The scene is carefully set for her amazing role as a social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Opening with her garbage crusade against unsanitary conditions and entrenched politicians in Chicago, then jumping back to her life as a child in Cedarville, IL, and continuing in a linear format, anecdotal information carries the story. Thoughtful placement of quotes from her own testimony and descriptions of her personal quirks humanize her. Primary documents, mainly in the form of archival photos and direct quotes from letters, break up the text. Notes reveal that the authors conducted interviews and did extensive research to authenticate the stories-the detail of these notes will assist researchers seeking to pursue their sources.-Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A fascinating and rich life is related in strong, unfussy prose by the Fradins. Known as Jennie as a child, the peace activist, founder of Hull House, and Nobel Prize winner felt like an ugly duckling. But college, Europe, and the discovery of good work that she could do in the city of Chicago transformed her. The settlement house she founded in 1889 provided a place for the poor to learn, to socialize, to share. She mobilized both workers and volunteers, wrote, spoke, studied, and raised funds. Most of the photographs are portraits; the text is enlivened when the images are those taken at Hull House or at marches. The narrative is smoothly written, and the opening anecdote, which describes how she became a garbage inspector of the Nineteenth Ward of Chicago in order to get the garbage picked up, is telling and draws readers into the story. Addams' bouts of depression and her deeply unpopular opposition to World War I are noted but do not unbalance the narrative. What shines is her everyday heroism, which changed lives. Excellent. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2006 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This remarkable team (Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement) aptly captures the shaping of Jane Addams's (1860-1935) character. The authors focus on her inspiration for and her own contribution to the settlement house movement with Hull House ("an institution that provides educational and social services for the needy"), as well as her unpopular yet stalwart commitment to peace during WWI. The authors immediately grab readers' attention with a chapter on Jane's comical role as Garbage Inspector of Chicago's Nineteenth Ward (where Hull House was situated). Only 5'3", Jane commanded "the brawny garbage collectors," and the cleanup contributed to lowering the ward's death rate. Jane extended her hospitality to even the "stone throwers" surrounding Hull House, and made a smooth transition to pacifist. The press sanctified and berated Jane in equal measure, calling her "Saint Jane" and eventually even "the most dangerous woman in America." The book explores some of her complexities, including her habit of collecting interesting people and also speculation about whether she and her close friend Mary Rozet Smith might also have been lovers. Jane may have lived a century ago, but her universal childhood anxieties (a sense of herself as an "ugly duckling" and her very modern complex family tree) as well as her struggle with depression make her a very human and inspiring role model for today's readers. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.