This biography of a family traces the lives of six remarkable people who each carved a niche in the world and left an indelible mark in U.S. history during the first half of this century. Poor yet high-spirited, lovers of both literature and nature, the Sherwoods of Cornwall, N.Y. were more concerned with doing good than making good and were rewarded internally rather than with monetary success. As Hodges states: ``There was in them what Americans like to think of as the essential American character, the will to make a difference.'' The story begins with Mary, the matriarch of the family, and ends by recounting the life of Sidney, the youngest child. Throughout the book, all characters accrue an impressive list of accomplishments in such various realms as women's rights, education, medicine, psychology, writing and politics. Equally impressive is the list of family friends, among them Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony. Hodges chooses not to embellish characterizations, but reveals each family member's personality through journal entries, letters and the observations of acquaintances. While some readers may find this objective approach tedious, others will recognize and appreciate the tremendous amount of research that went into this, as well as Hodges's dedication to historical fact, her eye for detail and interest in truth. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Gr 6-9--Mary Sherwood, after being widowed at the turn of the century, brought up five children with love and courage, creating a home that both they and their friends would find welcoming and supportive throughout their lives. She lived to be almost 100, leaving a legacy of a crusading family: daughters dedicated to the environment, wildlife, health care, and education, and a son whose career was international rela tions. She was also a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt's, who admired Mary tre mendously, as does the author of this book. Adulatory asides and ``she must have thoughts'' frame a book so intent upon the relentless minutiae of the lives of these people--taken from diaries and letters--and so colored by personal ad miration that whatever was real, or im portant in their lives, fails to come forth. One's own affections are not nec essarily of interest to other people, un less one can somehow communicate that specialness and make an audience feel the same way; and for young read ers, both the subject and the manner of telling should be tailored to their sensi bilities. This is a pleasant, self-indul gent memoir without any remarkable qualities of either style or content.-- Marjorie Lewis, Scarsdale Junior High School, N.Y.