Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

An experienced author of numerous children’s books and herself a refugee from the Soviet Union, Sonia Daugherty has made ten popular American heroes, each evincing principles that have entered the mainstream of American life, the subjects of Ten Brave Men: Makers of the American Way, a collective biography for young readers. She has made no effort to survey the lives of these individuals comprehensively; rather, she has selected brief episodes from their careers that exemplify the strength of their characters and beliefs. Her ten narrative chapters are arranged chronologically, from 1620 until Abraham Lincoln’s death and the close of the Civil War. Twenty vivid and exciting black-and-white illustrations by James Daugherty, the au-thor’s husband, enliven each chapter. While every chapter contains materials descriptive of locales, personalities, and events, much of this work is carried forward by plausible, fictionalized dialogue interspersed with excerpts from documents pertinent to the subjects of each chapter—the Mayflower Compact, Patrick Henry’s Virginia Resolves, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776), and the Declaration of Independence, among others.

Any number of examples might have been chosen from the lives of these figures in order to reveal their adherence to lofty ideals, such as with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Lincoln. Daugherty’s selections, however, are especially fitting. William...

(The entire section is 467 words.)