Friday, March 10, 2017

PPBF: The House That Jane Built

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The House that Jane Built, by Tanya Lee Stone and Kathryn Brown
The House That Jane Built:
 A Story about Jane Addams

Written by Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Kathryn Brown
Christy Ottaviano Books, 2015
Grades 2-8, 48 pp., 910L

Biography, Helping Others

       "In 1889, a wealthy young woman named Jane Addams moved into a lovely, elegant house in Chicago, Illinois. But instead of moving into a lovely, elegant neighborhood, she picked a house that was smack in the middle of one of the filthiest, poorest parts of town.
       "Why would a wealthy young woman do this when she could have lived anywhere?"

At six years old, Jane Addams decided she would fix the world when she grew up. Privileged and well read, Jane nevertheless grew up acutely aware of the needs of those around her. Perhaps she learned this from her father, whose library was so grand, it served as the town library as well. As an adult, Jane traveled to Toynbee Hall in London, the first settlement house. It was a place where people of all classes lived, worked, learned, and mingled. Toynbee became the model for Addams's own Hull House in Chicago. The  book follows Jane from early events which shaped her thinking, through many of her civic projects and to the memorial of her death. The author's note goes into great detail about incidents left out of the main text. There is a short list of sources for further reading.

What I Love:
Though the FBI called her the most dangerous woman in America for her ideas and her determination to create change, she was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace prize, awarded in 1931. Jane worked for better conditions for people of all skin colors and especially for the poor. Most of the people with whom she worked were immigrants who had little social standing, few possessions, and often a poor grasp on the language. She stood in the gap and gave them a voice, anticipating and communicating their needs.

History was nothing like this when I was a kid. I clearly remember the unit on reformation, was it fifth grade? It was so boring, I couldn't keep the names straight. The causes like poverty, temperance, educational reform, and suffrage were so far removed from our little classroom; there was no attempt made to connect with us or to ground the events in time or place. This book was interesting and well organized. The author managed to distill the huge amount of information about the life and accomplishments of Jane Addams into just 32 pages. She put the facts into cotext and completely within the reach of the readership. The illustrations are watercolor perfection, organic and peaceful just like the peace Jane Addams worked for herself.

 I love the lyrics which appear on the title page, sung at the dedication of the Women's Club on Polk Street in1905:

A House stands on a busy street
Its doors are opened wide,
To all who come it bids good cheer,
To some it says, Abide.

—Jane Addams

1. Visit the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago. And find fascinating information on the National Women's History Museum site. The Jane Addams Papers Project has posted a chronology of her life.

Toynbee Hall on which Hull House was based.
2. Read more about the untold parts of Jane Addams's story from Harvard University, The History Channel,, American National Biography Online, and the Nobel Prize site.

3. Here's the history of The Settlement, in Philadelphia, with links to modern community facilities. Look for a settlement house program in your area. Volunteer. Donate. Promote. Contact a local Boys and Girls Club or United Neighborhood Centers to see how you can help. One of my favorites in this region is Friendship House

4. Addams gave sacrificially for the welfare of the poor. Americans Helping Americans is organization you can become involved with which brings relief to those struggling through a rough time in their lives.

5. Addams worked tirelessly for immigrants in her neighborhood. Only 8% of the estimated 8 million illegal immigrants attempt to become citizens of the United States annually. Immigration makes our melting pot strong and marvelous. Instead of throwing our money at the political machine, let's get out in our communities and rebuild the nation one person at a time.
  • Consider sponsoring a candidate: fees can run $400-600.
  • My mother-in-law taught in a local program for years, one which helped immigrants learn English, apply for jobs, and walked them through the steps to citizenship. She made friends from all backgrounds.
  • Our local church is smack in the middle of an Irish-Polish-Italian-Hispanic-Latino-Indian-Russian community, besides the three colleges within walking distance which attract students from the four corners of the world. We are constantly learning new ways to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Neighbor helping neighbor on a personal level is what our kids should be witnessing, not endless banter on the internet and at rallies, complaining without compassionate action. Let's not overlook the neighbor in need in our back yard. I think we can all agree on that.

Here are some resources to get you started:

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Keila

Another book by Tanya Lee Stone
Reviewed by Kirsten
Another book by Kathryn Brown
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Vivian

Reviewed by Barbara

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, March 10, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Thank you for a great review and resources. I had not heard of Jane Addams, but reading this I wonder how I could have missed this remarkable woman. What a great and timely picture book.

    1. In school she got lumped together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. That was about all I remembered for years. Hope you like the book. Thanks.

  2. Such a wonderful review of one of my favorite picture books! Jane Addams truly was a remarkable woman.

    1. I can see why it's one of your favorites. It's superb in every detail. Thanks.

  3. I know Jane, but hadn't read this book. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It's so beautifully done and highlights just a few of this remarkable woman's accomplishments. Thanks for reading.

  4. Oh, what a wonderful story about a strong and determined woman. I never heard about Jane Adams and really love her story! Excellent share!

    1. Really? She was required reading in my day, but as I said, was presented in a forgettable way. Thank goodness for modern non-fiction!

  5. Ooh, this sounds like a fantastic book. I don't remember learning about Jane Addams as a child, either. But I know this story would've stirred and inspired me. I will definitely check this out and share it with my daughter. Thank you!

  6. Jane Addams is my #shero. My copy of 20 Years at Hull House is falling apart it's been read so much! I haven't seen this picture book yet but I definitely plan to find it. I love how you've contextualized Addams' contributions & the many resources you've shared. Great review!

    1. Well, you'll definitely love this book about her, and I'm sure you'll find others to share it with. Thank-you.

  7. Definitely a book for me - thanks!!!

    1. Fair is fair: You are always introducing me to books I can't live without. Thanks!

  8. Joanne, this sounds like a great book. I ordered it right away. Thanks.

    1. I've practically worn out the library copy, so I guess it's one I'd better put on my "to buy" list. Thank-you (and thanks for all your work on #50PreciousWords!)

  9. I agree, history presented through biographies like Jane's makes it so much easier to make a meaningful connection. Even for adults. Thanks for this review.

  10. This sounds like an amazing book. I love picture books that help bring history to life. I realized after reading this post that I don't know enough about Jane Adams! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thanks, Jess. I hope you can find a copy of this or one of Tanya's other books.


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