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Published by Grosset and Dunlap, the Signature “Story of” books are a biography series very similar to the famous Landmark and North Star children’s biography series. Like those series, the publishers at Grosset and Dunlap commissioned excellent authors to write biographies that would be appropriate for children. After having read several books in each series, I would say that the Signature books vary more widely in reading level than the Landmark books do. Generally, the Landmark books tend to be ideal for independent readers in grades 5-8. The Signature books tend to be ideal for independent readers in grades 3-6. That said, most of the books of both series are reputed to be good specimens of historical research and high quality writing. In the Signature books, some details and conversations are fictionalized to give the reader the sense that they are eavesdropping on the real life of the character.

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The Story of Clara Barton was written by Olive Price and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators of that period, Ruth Ives. This story is sweet, friendly, and interesting. Of the sixteen chapters, the first six deal with Clara’s childhood and gives us insight into the experiences she had which shaped her love for nursing and serving. We read this book aloud during our Morning Symposium time and I am not sure if have I ever cried as much during a read aloud! The book is not sad, per se, but has a number of tender moments, and a Civil War battle death.

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Some families may opt to use this book in conjunction with a Civil War unit. I decided to read it as a stand-alone. Between the various biography series, there are so many worthy choices for that time period. We have a number of nurses in our family and my daughter is interested in nursing, so we read in between other things we were studying. I did get the Dover Famous Women of the Civil War coloring book to go with our reading.

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