Title: Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott
Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrator: Bethanne Andersen
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, occupations, jobs, schooling
Review: American novelist Louisa May Alcott achieved fame and prosperity with her writing, particularly the novel Little Women. However, her early years were marked by economic hardship as her family struggled to make ends meet. Her father’s unconventional ideas about teaching, which included equal treatment of all children regardless of their gender or race, led him to lose his job as an educator more than once. He also felt compelled to give away money to those even less fortunate, leaving Louisa, her mother, and her three sisters with continued worries about money. Although these worries plagued Louisa into adulthood and led her to take on various jobs that she did not enjoy, her happier memories from growing up in a tight-knit family helped to frame her successful writing career.
This informative biographical account presents an interesting opportunity to think about the various connections between economics and the arts. The author makes it a point to emphasize Louisa’s financial situation from childhood into adulthood, as well as the motives she had for working in different jobs before she could support herself fully with writing. The lovely gouache and pastel illustrations further add to the artistic appeal of this outstanding book.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children