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Please Help, Miss Nightingale! Review by April Elstrom

Stewart Ross
Trafalgar Square Publishing
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Please Help, Miss Nightingale! is written by Stewart Ross as part of his Flashback series of children's historical fiction books. It is a trade paperback book with a thick card stock cover and sturdy pages. This book is 62 pages long and includes historical background information on Florence Nightingale's life, a glossary of new words, and a historical timeline. There are ten large line drawings by Sue Shields as well as smaller illustrations included on every page of text.

Written for 9 to 12 year olds, Please Help, Miss Nightingale! is told in a story format, focusing mainly on Florence Nightingale's role in the Crimean War and Scutari hospital. It is a biographical tale based on true events, although some of the conversations are fictionalized. Unlike some historical fiction books, Please Help, Miss Nightingale! is more fact than fiction.

This book works well for those using a literature-based approach for studying history, or it could be used as a supplement to any history study. Since we recently studied this time period in history, I assigned the book to my 10-year-old and 12-year-old daughters after I finished reading it. They both read it quickly, and found it interesting. Although they probably wouldn't choose this for pleasure reading, it was a pleasant school assignment. The book was not dry or too long, and it held their interest. Each of us learned something new about Florence Nightingale.

Some of the words in the book are more difficult. My 8.5-year-old son would not be able to read this book, and likely won't be able to as a 9-year-old. The text font is a nice size for the age intended, and the pictures help to break up the text for reluctant readers.

There is only one caution with this book. The hospital commander uses two phrases that some may consider to be cursing: "Hell's teeth!" and "For God's sake!" These phrases occur three times in the book.

My children and I enjoyed Please Help, Miss Nightingale! It is perfect for younger readers or those who object to long and dry biographies. I hope to add more of Stewart Ross's Flashback series to my collection.

Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009