Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield

Candlewick. Oct. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763679941.
Gr 3-7–Mary Seacole, a nurse who served on the front lines of the Crimean War, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1805. As a young girl, Seacole watched her mother prepare herbs to help sick people. She decided she wanted to help others with natural remedies, kindness, and good food. Seacole is an unsung hero of the nursing world. Rubin details Seacole’s lifelong interest in medicine and how her mother influenced her pursuit of a career in the medical field. Pope’s full-page, colorful illustrations allow young readers to imagine Seacole’s life. Although the story focuses on health care, it also explores the sexism, classism, and racism that Seacole experienced. Seacole’s mother was Creole and her father was a Scottish officer, who died when she was 10. Having one white parent did not shield Seacole from racial slurs hurled at her by both English and American white people. In 1855, at the age of 50, Seacole ventured to Constantinople, Turkey. She visited an army hospital and met Florence Nightingale, who gave her a less than warm reception. Readers learn about Seacole’s tenacity, resilience, and giving nature. The text also includes a brief mention of the first modern war correspondent and how Seacole’s fame spread throughout many countries. Source notes and a bibliography are included.
VERDICT All students should read about Seacole’s story of determination and perseverance. This picture book biography could find a home in elementary through middle school libraries.

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