cover image Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton

Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton

Patricia Polacco. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-35477-6

Writing with unguarded emotion, Polacco offers a porthole into Clara Barton’s early childhood. Plagued by a speech impediment, Barton sought refuge outdoors, caring for animals, and relied on her nurturing older brother Davie. Polacco’s mixed-media artwork portrays an upbringing filled with insecurity, with moments of both darkness (Clara is sent to the basement by her older sister: “She doesn’t want to talk right. She’s lazy! She refuses to pronounce words properly!”) and joy, as Clara discovers her talent for healing. The author focuses on Barton’s formative experiences, ending the story before Barton enters adulthood, as if to suggest that children of unusual sensitivity can blossom into adults of profound influence. An author’s note explains Barton’s later contributions to society, as well as Polacco’s family connection to the founder of the American Red Cross. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)