Little People, Big Dreams: Florence Nightingale; Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
It is about time that the Lady of the Lamp took her place in the Little People, Big Dreams series; it is an absolute joy and honour to read her story.
Born into a wealthy family and the recipient of a fine education, it was expected that Florence Nightingale would marry a decent husband and live a comfortable life. But the clever and kind-hearted lady had her own plans. Her purpose in life was to care for the sick and the poor so she followed her passion and learnt all about nursing. When the Crimean war broke out, Florence travelled overseas to help the wounded soldiers and in doing so she would revolutionise medical practices that would help save countless lives…
This is not a rags-to-riches story, more a riches-to-calling story. It would have been easy for Florence to have lived a life of privilege but she didn’t aspire to the life that her family had and instead forged her own path. A path that would see her study in secret, move to Germany and sail to Constantinople to offer her services in the midst of war in the most terrible conditions.
The strong female, with dreams far beyond her comfortable surroundings, would not let family opinions and the expectations of society define her path in life and the world has much to be thankful for. Despite not being encouraged to be one, Florence was a brilliant and pioneering nurse and her story exemplifies that we don’t have to do what others expect of us. If we believe in something else and chase it with all our heart then anything is possible.
The mother of modern nursing revolutionised the medical world with her care and practices and we owe so much to her efforts within the nursing field. She ensured that things that seem simple today - such as good hygiene, sanitisation and cleanliness - were at the forefront of nursing practices. And she understood better than anyone that for patients to get better they needed fresh air, clean linen, food and sunlight - a recipe for good health that lives on long after her death.
In a life full of selfless good deeds, she not only cared for others and nursed them back to health but used a monetary prize from Queen Victoria to fund a hospital and training school. She even wrote a book so that others could follow in her footsteps. Her lasting legacy was to turn nursing into a profession that would be respected.
In light of the pandemic, Florence’s story is all the more poignant and important. It provides the perfect platform for discussing the essential healthcare workers who selflessly act to save the lives of others and who shine a light for us all in dark times. The world needs more ‘Florences’ and her wonderful life story will hopefully inspire future generations of kind-hearted nurses.
Delightfully illustrated with bright and bold artwork and with a story told in short and simple sentences, this is an inspiring read about a lady who was inquisitive and intelligent but above all kind and caring and whose desire to follow her dreams would allow many others to live longer lives. At the back of the book there is a short overview of her life which includes key facts and dates and a historical timeline featuring photographs
With thanks to Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the copy that was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 5+.