Stories of the brave and the famous intrigue everyone, but they are particularly appealing to youth. As a biographical work for young adults, Dreams into Deeds presents nine heroes worthy of emulation and has many hallmarks of an outstanding biography. As is evident from their preliminary remarks, the authors have a remarkable interest in their subject matter. In the preface, Peavy and Smith explain their fascination with the concept that behind each famous woman was a little girl who first had a dream about who or what she wanted to become. They also hasten to point out, however, that dreams are only the beginning and must be turned into action. The authors admire the stories of these nine famous women.
Subjects for the biographies were not chosen randomly, but were selected from among those women featured in the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. The authors’ approach shows respect for the social consciousness and skill of women who were first dreamers and then doers. Peavy and Smith align themselves with the attitudes of the women themselves in reporting the deeds that typified them. For example, the authors chose examples from the lives of each of the women that highlight their chief concerns for others. Addams, Hamilton, and Jones are lauded for their incessant crusade in helping employees to overcome poor working conditions. Carson and Mead are held up as models because of their concern about environmental issues and about...
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Peavy and Smith’s work is an interesting addition to the body of young adult nonfiction because it addresses the lives of nine women who influenced recent history. Although historical events are mentioned, the personal contributions of the women are the focus of the readers’ consciousness. By choosing to write briefly about the lives of nine women rather than focusing in depth on one woman, the authors have presented young adult readers with the cumulative effect of women who significantly altered the course of history in the twentieth century. The authors interpret the character of these women who were not merely swept along by events but instead actively involved themselves in the problems of their day and determined to find solutions.
Dreams into Deeds follows the authors’ first coauthored book, Women Who Changed Things (1983), a compilation of biographies of nine relatively unknown women in the period between 1880 and 1930. The writers are intent on their mission of bring-ing to the body of literature for young adults information about important women who made a difference in the lives of others. They point out in more than one biography that people can enrich their lives by knowing the history that has preceded them. Peavy and Smith have made an impact on the reading of young adults by providing them with relevant material that is well researched and presented in a palatable and interesting format.