School Library JournalGr 4-6-Ptacek writes in a lively style, and often concludes an anecdote with a quotation from the subject herself. Baker emerges as an energetic, imaginative, determined, gracious person. Her accomplishments in the fields of medicine, public health, and women's rights are intertwined in the text, rather than compartmentalized into neat categories. Without an index to lean upon, students must read the entire ``story,'' which allows them to see Baker as a whole person. Although the text is apparently well researched and accurate, Ptacek's failure to document his sources leaves him open to charges of fictionalization. In keeping with his anecdotal style, the author often refers to the subject by her first name. However, he frequently calls her ``Dr. Baker'' as well, making for a confusing mixture of respect and intimacy. Despite somewhat static compositions, pencil drawings show her gradually changing from a young girl to a mature woman, and help to illustrate the era in which she worked. The format is attractive, with comfortably large type and plenty of white space. The length is appropriate for the intended audience but does not oversimplify the subject's life.-Sandy Kirkpatrick, Benicia Public Library, CA
Hazel RochmanWith large type and several full-page black-and-white drawings, this is a simple biography of the doctor who pioneered public health care standards for children at the turn of the century. A dramatic opening incident describes how, as a privileged child, Baker once gave away all her party clothes, including her underwear, to a poor girl her own age. After that chapter, however, there's almost no sense of her personal life or individual complexity. The author focuses on Baker's public career and connects her work in children's health with her fight for women's rights. What emerges most vividly is a strong sense of the social conditions of the time: the city slums filled with new immigrants; the crowded, unsanitary conditions that caused infectious diseases to spread like wildfire. It's against this background that Ptacek sets Baker's work, both the daily drudgery with individual patients and the vision that established preventative health care as a necessity.
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