Parents' Guide to

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery

By Whitney Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Thoughtful, moving biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Author Freedman neatly balances history and entertainment, descriptive and snappy prose, and fact and ambience. He knows how to engage young readers without sacrificing content or literary style. Freedman does enough research to write a scholarly adult work, but carefully chooses material that will hold a young adult's attention. Eleanor Roosevelt was a complex woman who faced as many emotional challenges as political ones, and Freedman offers readers a well-rounded view of Roosevelt that is not shaded in hero worship. Boys may not be able to identify as easily as girls do with Roosevelt's struggles as a plain-looking girl, a young wife and mother dependent on her husband and his family, and an intelligent woman wanting to break through confining social traditions -- but both girls and boys will come away understanding Roosevelt's strengths (compassion, energy, open-mindedness) and her self-professed weaknesses (emotional intensity, a somber attitude, and no-nonsense mothering).

Despite a few points of history that could use more explanation -- the October 1929 stock market crash, for example -- Freedman presents a lively view of a vivid chapter in U.S. history. This biography is as much an interesting leisure-time book as it is a classroom history text. Source notes for the many quotes are missing, but Freedman does include a discussion of further reading and of historical sites connected to Roosevelt.

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