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Josephine : The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson


Overview - Coretta Scott King Book Award, Illustrator, Honor
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, Honor
Boston Globe Horn Book Award, Nonfiction Honor
Parent's Choice Award
Wall Street Journal's 10 Best Children's Books of the Year List
Bologna Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor 2014
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St.
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More About Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell; Christian Robinson
 
 
 
Overview
Coretta Scott King Book Award, Illustrator, Honor
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, Honor
Boston Globe Horn Book Award, Nonfiction Honor
Parent's Choice Award
Wall Street Journal's 10 Best Children's Books of the Year List
Bologna Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor 2014
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781452103143
  • ISBN-10: 1452103143
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publish Date: January 2014
  • Page Count: 104
  • Reading Level: Ages 10-13


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > Biography & Autobiography - Cultural Heritage
Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > Biography & Autobiography - Performing Arts
Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > Biography & Autobiography - Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-11-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

Segregated American clubs were willing to let African-American dancer Josephine Baker (1906–1975) perform, but they wouldn’t let her use the front door. Powell (Frog Brings Rain) chooses a potent metaphor for Baker’s hidden anger: “hot magma, molten lava, trapped within.” When Baker arrived in France, the country embraced both her artistry and her blackness, and “Her deep volcanic core—filled with emotion, filled with music—erupted.” Robinson (Rain!) draws round faces gazing with amazement at the woman onstage whose pearl necklace flies one way and whose hips swing the other. Baker’s entire life spreads out in this tapestry of words, from a St. Louis childhood surrounded by music to her triumphs all over Europe—followed, sadly, by debt and illness. Robinson’s naif, folk-style figures look like puppets, and make some grim moments easier to endure (“Those ugly rumors incited some white folks/ to beat, murder, and burn black East St. Louis”). Although Powell’s focus is on Baker, the contrast between segregated America and welcoming France will not be lost on readers. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Little boys and girls, join hands

Remembering the sacrifices and successes of African Americans—from unexpected champions of civil rights to talented performers who dreamed big—is one of the most inspiring ways to celebrate Black History Month. If we keep teaching our children well, racism just may someday be a thing of the past.


A TRIBUTE TO A MEMORABLE VOICE

In Josephine, Patricia Hruby Powell writes with great reverence and a vigor fitting to the life of the illustrious performer Josephine Baker. This handsomely designed tribute to Josephine’s life is refreshingly uncluttered in every way: Powell’s free-verse text doesn’t waste any words, and Christian Robinson’s minimalist acrylic illustrations communicate the very essence of Josephine’s vivacious spirit. 

Powell takes readers from Josephine’s poor childhood to her death, and in between she chronicles the major events of her life—her struggles with racial discrimination, her rise to the top, her legendary performances and her efforts to spy for the Allies against the Nazis during WWII. Powell repeatedly uses the powerful metaphor of Josephine as a volcano, often using all caps to emphasize Josephine’s larger-than-life talent. “Deep-trapped steam FLASHED and WHISTLED,” she writes about her signature dance moves. “Josephine was on fire. CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.” Other sparkling metaphors nail Josephine’s stamina and describe her body as “a prizefighter, like a kangaroo, with rhythm in her hips, like a cat ready to strike, a volcano about to burst.” 

The book plays effectively with font size and type to accentuate the major themes of her life. After Josephine gets yet another rejection early in her career, based on her skin color, Powell asks in large, cursive type, “Wasn’t there any place in the world where color didn’t matter?” Quotes from Josephine are also dramatically placed, and Powell chooses those that communicate Josephine’s inner fire: “I improvised, crazy with music. Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever.” 

With grace, simple shapes and lots of style and movement, this book perfectly captures Josephine, with a varied and vibrant color palette that complements her dynamic personality. Josephine is an extraordinary tribute to an American legend. 

 
BAM Customer Reviews