♦ This picture book biography presents Vinnie Ream as a young woman who transcended the conventions of her time through determination and a remarkable talent for sculpture. Living in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War, Vinnie, 14, became one of the U.S. Postal Service’s first female employees, but she spent her spare time modeling in clay. She apprenticed herself to a renowned sculptor and progressed so well that at 18, she had daily sessions with President Lincoln while she worked to create his likeness. After Lincoln’s assassination, Congress commissioned her to sculpt a marble statue of the late president, which is still on display in the Capital rotunda. Fitzgerald’s clearly written narrative portrays Vinnie as a hardworking, resolute person who succeeded through her own gifts and the help of others who believed in her. Stock’s watercolor paintings light up the pages. The joy of the Washington street scene marking the war’s end is all the more vibrant in contrast with quiet pictures of Vinnie sculpting the president. Back matter includes an author’s note about Vinnie’s later life as well as a list of books and online resources. A spirited introduction to a little-known artist.
—Booklist, starred review