Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Reading Life: Edith Cavell

The name "Edith Cavell" was completely unknown to me a month ago until I visited Mt. Edith Cavell while touring Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. As we hiked the short distance to view Mt. Edith Cavell and its glacier (named "Angel Glacier," undoubtedly significant in an otherwise appearing coincidence), our guide told us a short three-to-four sentence biography of Edith Cavell -- enough to intrigue me. I searched for a book about her during our travels to no avail. Once I got home, I found a couple of them: A Cup of Cold Water: The Compassion of Nurse Edith Cavell (Farenhorst) and Silent in An Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell (Batten).

A Cup of Cold Water: The Compassion of Nurse Edith Cavell (Farenhorst), a juvenile historical fiction/biography, tells Cavell's story from the beginning, describing a lot of her family life, and continues until her end. It is historically deep enough for middle/early high school without becoming boring, yet interesting enough without losing sight of historical significance. After reading this book, I wanted a little more, but something short enough to not get bogged down. That I found in Silent in An Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell (Batten).

Batten can tell a good story. And his historical details are plentiful, but not distracting. He lays a vivid landscape and clearly places characters in their historical places. Scattered throughout are photos from the times, many with Edith Cavell or people/places associated with her.

If I were still teaching school, I would be using Farenhorst's book in middle school and follow that up a few years later with Batten's book. World War I books are not abundant, especially for these school ages, and Batten presents this gritty war in a very real context through his Cavell book.

Reading both of these short books has given me insight and appreciation for this courageous soul  who stood her ground in the face of her fleeting future.


Carol said...

I'd heard of Edith Cavell & that she was executed but I thought it was in WW2. It is hard to find WW1 books for younger folk so thanks for the reviews.

Carol said...

Ps love the Quiller-Couch quote!

Janie said...

Edith Cavell is top on my list now. What a remarkable woman!

I've been so negligent about posting over the last few years but hoping to revive that. Thanks for stopping by, Carol!