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Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women
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Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning Little Women, but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as Hospital Sketches, she had her first success as a writer. The ac ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Walker Children's
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Jul 10, 2014 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a very engaging biography of Louisa May Alcott that primarily depicts her time working in a Civil War hospital and the inspiration that it gave her to write. The narrative is very engaging and I love that it shows how she was unafraid to go against custom and pursue her dreams. The 'digital oil' illustrations are very realistic and expressive. We really enjoyed reading this book together.

I read Little Women numerous times in my childhood and I love that book. I have not yet read it with
Jim Erekson
This outline of Alcott's stint as a Civil War nurse, and how it impacted her writing was an interesting slice of her life. Krull spent careful time using Alcott sources to get the clear effect that Alcott was disgusted by nursing work while at the same time getting a kind of satisfaction from it--whether this was just the value of work, or a sense of contribution to the war effort, I'm not sure. At any rate, that was a nice flash of humanity. Beyond that, the books seems to suffer from what we s ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Louisa May Alcott is famous around the world as the author of Little Women, one of the most beloved works of literature for children, but what is less known is that she may never have had a career as a writer at all if not for her valiant service as a nurse during the Civil War.
It is this lesser-known part of Alcott's life that award-winning author Kathleen Krull concentrates on in her handsome new picture book about the iconic author, Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women (
Even today, the books of Louisa May Alcott remain popular with the late elementary and early middle grade set. This picture book biography describes her time spent volunteering as a war nurse during the Civil War. The experience of navigating through an unfamiliar city and taking care of the injured soldiers transformed the sheltered young woman in many ways. Relying on the notes she took during that time, she found her voice and inspiration through the sketches of hospital life she wrote and ha ...more
Gabrielle Blockton
Date: September 13th, 2014

Author: Kathleen Krull; Illustrations by Carlyn Beccia

Title: Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led To Little Women

Plot: Krull's picture-book biography focuses on the life of Louisa May Alcott, a young woman who became a nurse during the Civil War who became one of the most successful women writers in her time by writing stories centered around the Civil War, including Little Women.

Setting: Concord; New London, Connecticut; Washington (D.C.)

Characters: Louisa May
I enjoyed learning a little more about this author and the time she spent as a nurse during the Civil War. She's not necessarily one that kiddos will be drawn to on their own ... but this would be an excellent title for use in a classroom study. No non-fiction text features but interesting narrative.

The illustrations were a little uneven. Some I loved and some were so-so.
Bethley Giles
Krull, K., & Beccia, C. (2013). Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women. New York: Walker & Co.

Picture Book Soak

I love Louisa May Alcott and particularly Little Women, so I was excited to find this book. It details Alcott’s work in a hospital in Washington D.C., caring for the wounded during the civil war. Several pages are devoted to Alcott’s difficulties travelling from Concord, Massachusetts to Washington, many of them caused because of her gender. This book is a mu
Zionsville Public Library Youth Serivces
Did you ever wonder about the woman who wrote Little Women? Here's your chance to see what battle she had to faced that led to the popularity of her famous books!

Check it out at our library!
This takes one important episode of Alcott's life and shows how the experience led to her breakthrough title, Little Women. It is very well done. My main criticism is one that is unavoidable in this type of biography. A student cannot rely on this book alone to get their report written up. Of course, that is likely a good thing in that it makes the student have to read another book or reference title.

Again, this is a title that I don't feel I've reviewed well. Perhaps I'll come back to it when
Abby Johnson
An interesting bit of Louisa May Alcott's life, taking us from age 30 when she signed on as a Civil War nurse in Washington to the publication of Little Women at age 36 and Alcott's subsequent writing career. The pacing was off for me (three full spreads on her journey from Massachusetts to Washington to begin her nurse's post?) and I didn't care for the illustrations - they seemed flat to me. Back matter includes a note about women in medicine, a nice list of sources, and a note about the Battl ...more
I loved Little Women as a girl. Now I'm even more inspired by the woman that wrote it. What a lovely picture biography.
Anne Broyles
A nicely done "back story" to Louis May Alcott's fiction writing. Young readers learn about the Civil War, civilian nurses, the Emancipation Proclamation and how her Civil War sketches led to her novels. Krull (as always) does an excellent job showing the history, but most importantly, Alcott's feelings as she lived the history (using quotes from her journals).Beccia's paintings fit the time period and show how hard nursing was in small details like Louisa's blood-streaked apron.

Note: I support
Covers an extraordinary chapter in the life of Louisa May Alcott, when she volunteers to serve as a Civil War nurse. It serves to illuminate her humanitarianism, as well as her pluck. These experiences gave her fodder for her later novels. And the picture of her using an overturned teapot in the hospital as a writing service is priceless in conveying her determination. Recommend for 2nd - 5th grade, though the upper grades might consider it too babyish because of the illustrations. For teachers ...more
The more I learn about Louisa May Alcott, the more I love her!
I really wanted to really like it, however, the title is misleading; the cause and effect implied in the title is not quite clear. She was already a writer; her experiences as a nurse hardly seem tied to her composing "Little Women" over the course of a mere ten weeks. Readers of Alcott's classic will be able to make a few connections between plot points and real-life events; however, the expectation since this is a children's picture book is that these connections will be made clearly and cogen ...more
Apr 07, 2014 PWRL marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2014-new
4.5 stars
A glimpse into a little part of Louisa May Alcott's life...her journey into nursing service during the Civil War, which led to her publishing stories of this time, and then eventually stories of her life growing up--hence the publishing of Little Women. Very interesting story. Beautiful illustrations. Back matter with sources and more information. Good to share before reading the classic tale and good addition to historical time period of the Civil War or for a study of women in history
I may at times get irked by her didactic writing style, but I have always admired Louisa May Alcott. This book is about a part of her history that I did not know. It may have only been a few weeks, but I could see how influential her service in the Civil War would affect her writing. Well-written. A bit on the praising side rather than partial, but not too bad. I liked it, as I have been liking these other Women Pioneers books I've been reading lately.
Elizabeth Finney
I loved "Little Women" so I liked this insight into the author. Not a huge fan of the art in this book though. Looked kind of sappy, and the subject matter is grim - Alcott struggling to work as a nurse, the horrors of the hospital, and the difficulties, frankly, of being apparently the only wage earner in the Alcott family. Krull handles the difficult subject matter well.
I didn't respond to the illustrations and the story felt imbalanced, spending too much time on Alcott's journey to DC and a mere 3 weeks as a nurse. I understand that it was an impactful 3 weeks during an important period in America and that it was a turning point in her career, but it left me cold as a reader. As always, children would likely have a different response.
I thought this book was good as an adult, but I have my doubts about how it would go over with a kid. I love Little Women and think Alcott's life is very interesting, but the language in this book doesn't quite gel with the illustrations. They seemed to be such an awkward fit. Not a bad choice for a youth biography but I think there are better ones out there.
I am going to say something that will offend everyone! I have never read Little Women. I have, however, driven by Louis May Alcotts House in Massachusetts...This was an excellent non-ficition for late elementary school kids. I learned a lot that I wouldn't have learned about her...and It makes me want to read Little Women...and I hope it does that for other reader !
Lovely illustrations; reading this inspires me to reread Little Women, and beyond...also it reminded me of the difficulties of Louisa's personal life, some I was aware of and some not, although I have toured Orchard House, I have not read a biography. I may do that next,I would recommend this to anyone who has read and loved Little Women.
Little Women played a huge role in my young reading life. This book was very interesting. I loved learning more about Louisa May Alcott! Very cool story.
Marie Lejeune
I am a longtime fan of anything Louisa May Alcott, based upon my warm childhood memories of reading Little Women and Eight Cousins multiple times. This book did not disappoint and I especially appreciated the author notes at the back about women in medicine and the Civil War.
Nice look at one part of Louisa May Alcott's life, the month she spent as a nurse in the Civil War, and how that led to her successful writing career. Great details about Civil War nursing and Alcott's family life, and how she became a success later. Beautiful illustrations.
3.75 stars
I think Louisa May Alcott led a much more interesting life.. this is about a very short time period- weeks - in which she was a nurse during the Civil War.. and so I'm not sure why the author chose this part on which to focus
Mrs. Tongate
Did you know that at the age of 30, Louisa May Alcott, applied to be a Civil War army nurse? Great read aloud for Women's History and/or Civil War study. Many students might read Little Women after listening to the book.
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