Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Dreams into Deeds: Nine Women Who Dared, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith create short biographies of the lives of nine American women who became famous for their work in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each chapter of the book is a self-contained biography and is outlined in much the same format: a fictional vignette of an incident from childhood, particulars of birth and family, education, career choice and history, secrets of personal success, and tributes from admirers.

In the fictionalized vignette, the authors describe a girlhood incident; in many cases, they used events that were known to have happened and created details to describe a specific event or conversation that could have taken place in the youth of the young woman. These introductory vignettes are printed in italics to set them apart from the strictly historical text.

Particulars of birth and education as well as family history follow the introductory story. In most chapters, two photographs accompany the text: one of the famous woman in her youth, and another at maturity. Sometimes an excerpt from a diary or letter is included to emphasize a particular point. For example, when the authors describe Mary Harris Jones (known as Mother Jones) losing her four children and her husband in one week as the result of the plague, they include the words of the writer’s diary to tell about the tragedy. Similarly, when Peavy and Smith use what might be unfamiliar...

(The entire section is 537 words.)