First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low is a biography about the founder of the Girl Scout program in the United States. This book was written by Ginger Wadsworth; according to the acknowledgments, she talks about the various locations she visited that are associated with Juliette's life, as well as the various contacts and help she had from the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Girl Guides in Britain in order to compile all the information for this biography.
As a former Girl Scout myself, as well as being the mother of a current Girl Scout, this book piqued my interest. In my old Girl Scout handbook, there was a several pages devoted to a biography of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low, but this book really expounded on the information in my old handbook.
This book is being aimed at children who are nine to twelve years old or in fourth through seventh grade. I looked through my daughter's old Girl Scout Junior handbook, since that's basically the age group this book is targeted at. I was aghast to see how little information was in her handbook about Juliette Gordon Low, and how the choice had been made to have what information was presented in first person from Juliette's perspective. This book will definitely provide much more information to the girls in this age range than what has been made available in the more recent handbooks put out by the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Daisy lived quite an extraordinary life, and Wadsworth is able to convey it in such a way that it draws the reader into the book. I have to admit that I was nearly in tears when I read the section that covered Daisy's death; by that point, I had read about all the struggles that she had to go through, both in her personal life and in getting the Girl Scout organization going in the United States, I felt a emotionally invested.
In addition to including Juliette's life story, this book also includes an author's note about the time the author herself was a Girl Scout, the lyrics and music for the song "Make New Friends," a chronology, a bibliography, and an index. I do have a couple of minor complaints about the chronology. While the author includes some of the level changes in the 1940s and the 1960s, the author did not include the creation of the Daisy level in the 1980s or the more recent level change that created the Ambassador level.
There are also quite a few photographs included in the book. While several of the photos have already appeared in the Girl Scout handbooks over the past twenty to thirty years, there are some photographs that I had never seen before. Some of the photographs are of Daisy and her family, while others are various documents and newspaper articles. I thought these photographs really helped to illustrate the text of the book.
While I have a daughter in the Girl Scouts, I have become a little disappointed in the direction the organization has taken in the past couple of years. I honestly feel that they're starting to turn it into an organization that does not fit into Daisy's original vision. Perhaps those who are in positions at the national level should take a good close look at this book and be reminded of what Daisy's intentions and visions for the organization were.
I would definitely recommend this book to girls who are currently in Girl Scouts so they can gain a better understanding of the woman responsible for making the organization possible in the United States. And even though this book is being aimed at late elementary and early junior high readers, I found a lot of enjoyment in it as an adult; I would also recommend it to women who are former Girl Scouts like myself, as well as to the women and men who work with the current generation of Girl Scouts.