Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots: The Life of Louisa May Alcott

Illustrator: Diana Sudyka

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: Candlewick Press

Age 10+

People & Places

Insightful, exciting, and deeply moving, Liz Rosenberg’s distinctive portrait of the author of Little Women reveals some of her life’s more complex and daring aspects.

Moody and restless, teenage Louisa longed for freedom. Faced with the expectations of her loving but hapless family, the Alcotts, and of nineteenth-century New England society, Louisa struggled to find her place. On long meandering runs through the woods behind Orchard House, she thought about a future where she could write and think and dream. Undaunted by periods of abject poverty and enriched by friendships with some of the greatest minds of her time and place, she was determined to have this future, no matter the cost.

Drawing on the surviving journals and letters of Louisa and her family and friends, author and poet Liz Rosenberg reunites Louisa May Alcott with her most ardent readers. In this warm and sometimes heartbreaking biography, Rosenberg delves deep into the oftentimes secretive life of a woman who was ahead of her time, imbued with social conscience, and always moving toward her future with a determination that would bring her fame, tragedy, and the realization of her biggest dreams.


Liz Rosenberg is a poet, best-selling novelist, professor, and writer of acclaimed books for children, including Monster Mama, an International Reading Association Children’s Choice; The Carousel; and What James Said, among other titles. She is also the author of the biography House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery. Her books have received numerous awards, including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the Paterson Prize. Liz Rosenberg lives in Binghamton, New York, with her daughter, Lily, and their dog, Sophie.

Diana Sudyka is an artist and the illustrator of several children’s books, including the award-winning series the Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming, When Sue Found Sue by Toni Buzzeo, and What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett. Diana Sudyka lives in Chicago.


A fresh and free-flowing character study of ‘a real-life heroine.’. . . A grand tale for present fans and future ones, too.

Kirkus Reviews

Rosenberg’s insights into [Alcott’s] parents, her sisters, her unconventional upbringing, and the family dynamics are crucial to understanding the woman she became and the decisions she made along the way. An informative, thought-provoking biography.


Engrossing. . . there’s plenty of intriguing detail of a dysfunctional upbringing, of the rampant effects of mercury poisoning contracted, and of the tantalizing hints of a brief but scandalous Paris liaison.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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