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Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

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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 s 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.


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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 s 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.

30 review for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

  1. 4 out of 5

    Iris P

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker Written in free verse, The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson is a beautiful little book and a great introduction to the life of the indomitable and glamorous African American-French dancer. The book features wonderful vivid illustrations of Josephine Baker life and career. Although I watched documentaries and at least one biopic movie based on her life, this children's book still ta Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker Written in free verse, The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson is a beautiful little book and a great introduction to the life of the indomitable and glamorous African American-French dancer. The book features wonderful vivid illustrations of Josephine Baker life and career. Although I watched documentaries and at least one biopic movie based on her life, this children's book still taught me a few things I didn't know about the life of this most extraordinary woman (I didn't know for example that during France's occupation in World War II, Baker had volunteered with the Red Cross and later on worked for the French Resistance, at times smuggling messages hidden in her sheet music and even in her underwear). In 1939 when France declared war on Germany, Baker was recruited by the French military intelligence, as an "honorable correspondent". After just finishing the wondrous Brown Girl Dreaming I think it's wonderful to see YA and Children's books teaching these new generations about African American icons and their impact in the world we live today. The book doesn't shy way from portraying Baker's life, including her talents and strengths, but also her controversial and complex personality. Baker adopted many children from all over the world which she described as "The Rainbow Tribe". In 1964 Josephine Baker lost her castle (yes she actually rented a real medieval castle in France!) due to unpaid debts, eventually she managed a successful career come back. In 1975 and four days after she starred in a show celebrating 50 years in show business, she was found in her bed and was in a coma until she died on April 12, 1975 at age 68. Overall I think this is a wonderful homage to Baker's tour de force career but also her undeniable contributions to the world as a civil rights activists fighting for both women's and African American rights.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I love biographies like this that are written for young readers. This is a good pick on many levels. Strong women, Segregation, Civil Rights and more are topics to ponder. Ms. Baker came from poor roots, picked herself up and danced to her own beat. I liked the way the book was laid out starting from her beginnings in 1906 to her final years. Just one thing for you to know Josephine Baker married Jo Bouillon, her orchestra leader. They adopted twelve children from different countries, brought th I love biographies like this that are written for young readers. This is a good pick on many levels. Strong women, Segregation, Civil Rights and more are topics to ponder. Ms. Baker came from poor roots, picked herself up and danced to her own beat. I liked the way the book was laid out starting from her beginnings in 1906 to her final years. Just one thing for you to know Josephine Baker married Jo Bouillon, her orchestra leader. They adopted twelve children from different countries, brought them up in in their own religions and called them her Rainbow Tribe. The illustrations alone, artistically rendered by Christian Robinson, are worth picking up the book. Well researched, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker gave this adult a glimpse into the life of a spirited soul.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Like many others, I have long been fascinated with Josephine Baker and saddened that she had to leave the nation of her birth in order to find success. This loving tribute to her talents as a dancer and comedian is filled with wonderful details that bring her to life. As I read the book and noted the vivid acrylic illustrations, I felt as though I could almost see her as she moved across the stage. The book covers each period of her life, beginning with her childhood poverty in St. Louis, and fo Like many others, I have long been fascinated with Josephine Baker and saddened that she had to leave the nation of her birth in order to find success. This loving tribute to her talents as a dancer and comedian is filled with wonderful details that bring her to life. As I read the book and noted the vivid acrylic illustrations, I felt as though I could almost see her as she moved across the stage. The book covers each period of her life, beginning with her childhood poverty in St. Louis, and following her to New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York City. But it was in Paris that she found her claim to fame. The French embraced her, and France became her home. The author is careful to describe her involvement in espionage during WWII and the civil rights movement. By the time she returns to the United States for a show, she is 67. This time, the audience is receptive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I am thrilled to have more attention given to this incredible woman. The book's design with curtains at the beginning and conclusion work well with the story. My only concern is how some of the text is hard to read, set as it is against the back drop of dark colors. Still, this is a handsome, inspiring biography for middle grade readers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna Olswanger

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a middle-grade biography of Josephine Baker, the African-American dancer who made it big in Paris in the 1920’s when this country was too racist to accept a "colored" super-star. Patricia Hruby Powell's Josephine , told in blank verse, is a wild dance, like Josephine’s life. And the author, who has been a solo concert dancer throughout the Americas and Europe, seems to be the right person to tell the story. In 1925 Josephine Baker was cata Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a middle-grade biography of Josephine Baker, the African-American dancer who made it big in Paris in the 1920’s when this country was too racist to accept a "colored" super-star. Patricia Hruby Powell's Josephine , told in blank verse, is a wild dance, like Josephine’s life. And the author, who has been a solo concert dancer throughout the Americas and Europe, seems to be the right person to tell the story. In 1925 Josephine Baker was catapulted to fame and fortune when she danced the Charleston in Paris. She came from the poorest of the poor to become the richest woman in the world, doing what she loved—dancing and singing. She had ideals and followed them fearlessly and tirelessly throughout her life. She worked for the French Resistance during WWII, civil rights in the U.S., and adopted twelve children of various races whom she called her Rainbow Tribe. In France, everyone knows about Josephine Baker. It's time that more people in America know about Josephine: her wit and style, her early work in U.S. civil rights, and her belief that all people—no matter their race or religion—should live together in peace. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a perfect resource for both Black History Month and Poetry Month.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie Ingall

    Officially my daughter Josephine is named after my husband's Papa Joe. Unofficially.... Anyway, the art is the star here. The text is good, poetic, syncopated, jazzy, and it definitely doesn't shy away from talking about the racist environments Ms Baker traveled and triumphed in. It's a kids' book, so it dances around the way she played with sexual stereotypes about Black women a bit, but the book absolutely leaves room for a parent to have that discussion. So that's the text. But the art. THE ART. Officially my daughter Josephine is named after my husband's Papa Joe. Unofficially.... Anyway, the art is the star here. The text is good, poetic, syncopated, jazzy, and it definitely doesn't shy away from talking about the racist environments Ms Baker traveled and triumphed in. It's a kids' book, so it dances around the way she played with sexual stereotypes about Black women a bit, but the book absolutely leaves room for a parent to have that discussion. So that's the text. But the art. THE ART. THE ART. It is DROOL-INDUCINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING. I wanted to get a boxcutter and slice out every page and glue them all on my walls, which is really a disturbingly violent passion to have about a book and so unlike me. I should probably go fetch an Ativan to temper the intensity of my love for this art as I'm typing here. (Illustrator Christian Robinson also did Gaston, which I reviewed recently -- the art there is also fab but I prefer the jazz-age touches and more vibrant palette he used here.) Just go buy it. Buy it for grownups and for kids.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    I liked this little biography of Josephine Baker. Josephine Baker seemed like she had loads and loads of life and warmth in her. Thanks to the song-like structure of her story, and the use of different sizes of text, she practically dances off the page.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Dars

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is told through a narrative poem, at times humorous, at times deeply upsetting, that should both challenge and reward young readers with its style and vocabulary. Hooked on wires, she held bow and arrow. But her wires got crossed. Couldn’t get down. Hanging in midair, she rolled her eyes like shooting marbles, flailed those long legs. WHAT A CLOWN! From her impoverished childhood in Saint Louis where she witnessed race riots to her glory days in Paris and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is told through a narrative poem, at times humorous, at times deeply upsetting, that should both challenge and reward young readers with its style and vocabulary. Hooked on wires, she held bow and arrow. But her wires got crossed. Couldn’t get down. Hanging in midair, she rolled her eyes like shooting marbles, flailed those long legs. WHAT A CLOWN! From her impoverished childhood in Saint Louis where she witnessed race riots to her glory days in Paris and her Carnegie Hall comeback to her death in 1975 at age sixty-nine. Her work with the French Resistance and her support of Dr. Martin Luther King is included in the story. The author did significant research for the project, as did the illustrator whose drawings are phenomenal and without a doubt my favorite part of the book. Objectively, the book is a wonderful biography of Josephine Baker for young readers. Baker does not get the recognition she deserved for her talent and her efforts to promote social justice. Powell unflinchingly recounts the racial prejudice, discrimination, and segregation Baker and other blacks in the period faced, and it’s so important that young people are aware of the history. The accompanying illustrations are a delight. Personally, I didn’t like the style, and I wondered if this might be the first children’s book to appear on my “did not finish” list, but I will own that this is more a reflection of my own preferences than anything to do with the book itself. I did wish there was more specific about Baker’s civil rights activism. In terms of the book design, I think it probably looks a lot better in hard copy than in the Kindle edition I read. Josephine Baker’s own words are frequently cited, but they are pull quotes in a cursive font, which I thought was a strange choice given that many children in the target age group haven’t learned cursive yet. I wanted to like this book much more than I did, but I think it’s an important biography, and honestly, I probably would have liked the book on the illustrations alone. I’m eager to read Josephine Baker by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, an entry in the Little People, Big Dreams series (for a slightly younger audience) to see how it compares. ...aka darzy... | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I like that this book touches on (if very, very lightly) Josephine's many different adventures and not just her entertainment career. It might have been fun to have less words from the author about the journey of the book's research and more illustrations and story about Josephine. She seemed like such and interesting person. I'm glad that now kids at least have this basic introduction to her glitzy, troubled, passionate world. References of source material for the story and Josephine's quotatio I like that this book touches on (if very, very lightly) Josephine's many different adventures and not just her entertainment career. It might have been fun to have less words from the author about the journey of the book's research and more illustrations and story about Josephine. She seemed like such and interesting person. I'm glad that now kids at least have this basic introduction to her glitzy, troubled, passionate world. References of source material for the story and Josephine's quotations are provided at the back of the book for those who want to dig a little deeper into Josephine's life. I read the ebook and I don't think it was a particularly good copy. It was hard to see the effect of the beautiful illustrations which were formatted awkwardly (and smaller than seemed intentional) on the screen so I'd really love to get my hands on the hardcopy. That's part of why I'm giving this 3 stars instead of 4 despite all its charm. But, more importantly, I felt like it was difficult figuring out who the audience was meant to be. And, actually, I still don't really know. Young kids who have a parent read it to them (and explain everything)? Older kids who can read on their own? Adults? The subject matter seemed above young kids, but the simple language seemed like it might bore slightly older kids who would be able to fully appreciate the content. So then I thought it might actually be adults this is aimed at who can appreciate the meaning and the charm of the simplicity of Powell's poetry. Other than these things though, I really liked this book. Once I get my hands on the hardcopy I may reassess and would be pleased to grant it a 4 stars. Christian Robinson's illustrations are so lovely. They pay homage to illustration of an older time in and reimagine it in a more inclusive, sweeter way. He makes me want to pick up Gaston and Leo: A Ghost Story next just to see more of his work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Josephine Baker was a dancer who moved from a very racist country for African Americans in the twenties to a less racist one, France, to the U.S.'s loss and shame. She was an humanitarian, helped the cause of France in WWII, and as a dancer, and civil rights activist, she was internationally famous. Powell, who writes this biography, was also a dancer so in her blank verse captures the spirit of dance and Josephine as dancer, but the artwork by Christian Powell is even better than the story, in Josephine Baker was a dancer who moved from a very racist country for African Americans in the twenties to a less racist one, France, to the U.S.'s loss and shame. She was an humanitarian, helped the cause of France in WWII, and as a dancer, and civil rights activist, she was internationally famous. Powell, who writes this biography, was also a dancer so in her blank verse captures the spirit of dance and Josephine as dancer, but the artwork by Christian Powell is even better than the story, in my opinion, colorful, and jazzy and funky and sophisticated. Josephine was like Madonna, known by one name wherever she went, an international celebrity. This illustrated biography will introduce her to many and keep her in the consciousness of many more. Pretty inspiring.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I loved the illustrations and the biographical feel of the poetry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    LALa

    The cover easily caught my attention (would love to have it as a print), and of course I don't need an excuse to read about Josephine Baker. I mainly went for this book to see if there were any new details I'd learn and the artwork. I loved the art style and think Christian Robinson did a fantastic job capturing her essence in his style. I will definitely look for other works he's illustrated. As to the writing, I appreciate that Hruby Powell didn't shy away from the relevant and important topic The cover easily caught my attention (would love to have it as a print), and of course I don't need an excuse to read about Josephine Baker. I mainly went for this book to see if there were any new details I'd learn and the artwork. I loved the art style and think Christian Robinson did a fantastic job capturing her essence in his style. I will definitely look for other works he's illustrated. As to the writing, I appreciate that Hruby Powell didn't shy away from the relevant and important topics concerning the time period of Baker's life, especially since it's being presented to children, and often times things can get sugarcoated. The writing style started off fun, but didn't always work as well for me when the content was a bit more serious, though I suppose word selection helped a little. Overall a quick and enjoyable read and I'd really like to see the artwork in the physical book format.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dee Dee G

    The illustrations are vibrant and pretty. This is a lighter version of her life for middle grade readers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erik This Kid Reviews Books

    Josephine Baker loved to dance. As a young girl in poverty in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine danced to keep warm (for she had no stockings). Ms. Baker grew up in a time of segregation and didn’t have the chances that she would have if she were white. Josephine decided she would show the world and make it as a dancer and performer. When given the chance, young Ms. Baker hooked up with some vaudeville performers as a dancer. Her energy and out right silliness stole the show from the other dancers. Josephine Baker loved to dance. As a young girl in poverty in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine danced to keep warm (for she had no stockings). Ms. Baker grew up in a time of segregation and didn’t have the chances that she would have if she were white. Josephine decided she would show the world and make it as a dancer and performer. When given the chance, young Ms. Baker hooked up with some vaudeville performers as a dancer. Her energy and out right silliness stole the show from the other dancers. When denied access to join the troupe on their voyage to Europe, Josephine sneaked on board to get away from segregated America. Nothing would stop Josephine. In France, Josephine soon became a star, and became even more famous throughout her travels in Europe. She even became a spy for France during World War II. She lived her dream. First I have to say, you pretty much feel like dancing after reading this book! This is an awesome biography about a person I’d never heard of before and I learned a lot. Ms. Baker sounds like she was a great person. Larger than life, like they say. I like how she adopted 12 children from around the world and raised them in their own cultures and religion. That was neat. I also think that Ms. Powell described the culture of segregation that Ms. Baker grew up in very well and showed how Josephine Baker overcame it and rose above it. The form of the book is nice too. I like the way some words are emphasized by capitalization and it is told in a cool prose. That was a nice touch. I find it cool that Ms. Baker had a leopard. Christian Robinson’s illustrations are amazing and magnificent and capture Ms. Baker’s spirit very well. *NOTE - I got an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    I LOVED this book! And I love it when a book I don't expect to like enchants me. All I knew about Josephine Baker before I read this book was that she was an African American entertainer. I didn't know she served in the military during World War II, or that she adopted 12 children. I didn't know she was a civil rights advocate. Author Powell obviously is a big fan of Josephine, because she writes with such enthusiasm--the text reads like poetry. I love the sound of her words-- this book would ma I LOVED this book! And I love it when a book I don't expect to like enchants me. All I knew about Josephine Baker before I read this book was that she was an African American entertainer. I didn't know she served in the military during World War II, or that she adopted 12 children. I didn't know she was a civil rights advocate. Author Powell obviously is a big fan of Josephine, because she writes with such enthusiasm--the text reads like poetry. I love the sound of her words-- this book would make a great readaloud. The text filled me with such a curiosity to know more details about Josephine's life that I know I'll be reading other books about her. I wasn't thrilled with the illustrations, but at least they were as colorful as Josephine herself, and full of energy. The only thing I would have liked at the end would have been a photo of Josephine herself. But I used Google Images to find plenty of pictures--and discovered that her dancing, in France at least, was actually topless! Powell carefully left that detail out of her narrative, and Robinson out of his pictures! I found an old film clip of her doing the charleston, and dancing cross-eyed. She had a gorgeous smile. I even found a picture of her in the banana skirt, and I think I found the color poster of her in the banana skirt mentioned in the book. This book truly deserved the Coretta Scott King, Robert F. Sibert, and Boston Globe/Horn Book honor book awards it received. I can't recommend it strongly enough. Magnifique!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shamekia

    Roses: The illustrations are GORGEOUS. I'm not very familiar with the illustrator's (Christian Robinson) work before this book, but I'll definitely be on the lookout from now on. They were so lively, fun, and just plain beautiful! Thorns: I didn't really care for the author's use of poetry to tell the story of Josephine Baker. I mean...I get why she did it-to convey the artistry, jazz, and liveliness of her life. I got bored with it though. And I'm wondering if a child would like it or get into Roses: The illustrations are GORGEOUS. I'm not very familiar with the illustrator's (Christian Robinson) work before this book, but I'll definitely be on the lookout from now on. They were so lively, fun, and just plain beautiful! Thorns: I didn't really care for the author's use of poetry to tell the story of Josephine Baker. I mean...I get why she did it-to convey the artistry, jazz, and liveliness of her life. I got bored with it though. And I'm wondering if a child would like it or get into it. I'm guessing that this book is written for 4th-6th grade. I was also annoyed at the typeface. Some words WERE IN ALL CAPS AND some words were NOT. Like I said, I get it, but I don't want it. However, I do respect the way she talked about racism, colorism, and segregation. She did not sugar coat anything, which makes this a great book for teaching and learning American history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Grace Laperuto

    This is a truly dazzling story of the life of Josephine Baker; a dancer and civil rights activist from the Jazz age. Patricia Hruby Powell, a dancer herself, thouroughly researched her subject; from the slums of St. Louis to the big stage in Paris, France. This is an inspiring story of hard work, strength, and triumph. I love reading stories like these to my children for it's ability to educate and empower. I recognized the illustration in this book right away, and upon looking up the illustrato This is a truly dazzling story of the life of Josephine Baker; a dancer and civil rights activist from the Jazz age. Patricia Hruby Powell, a dancer herself, thouroughly researched her subject; from the slums of St. Louis to the big stage in Paris, France. This is an inspiring story of hard work, strength, and triumph. I love reading stories like these to my children for it's ability to educate and empower. I recognized the illustration in this book right away, and upon looking up the illustrator found out he had illustrated another favorite picture book of mine, Gaston. These drawings are poppy and beautiful and could stand to be framed up on your wall.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is the type of book I would want to take more time to savor than I currently have available, especially to read the poetry aloud. I was impressed by how Powell incorporated quotes and biographical facts into the poetry without breaking the feel of the form. Robinson's illustrations are all about the angles and the bright, saturated colors - especially that sunshiney yellow that pops off the page. The whole thing makes me want to seek out some of Josephine's recordings to see her in action m This is the type of book I would want to take more time to savor than I currently have available, especially to read the poetry aloud. I was impressed by how Powell incorporated quotes and biographical facts into the poetry without breaking the feel of the form. Robinson's illustrations are all about the angles and the bright, saturated colors - especially that sunshiney yellow that pops off the page. The whole thing makes me want to seek out some of Josephine's recordings to see her in action myself.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Captures the vibrant spirit of Josephine Baker and skillfully balances the joy, explosiveness, and upward trajectory of her amazing career with the fear and despair of an impoverished childhood and the taint of racism in the segregated United States. My daughter and I both loved her story and the wondrous illustrations. Check out the work of the artist, Christian Robinson, at theartoffun.com - he directed and animated a short film called What Is Dance? for Sesame Street Workshop, and also worked Captures the vibrant spirit of Josephine Baker and skillfully balances the joy, explosiveness, and upward trajectory of her amazing career with the fear and despair of an impoverished childhood and the taint of racism in the segregated United States. My daughter and I both loved her story and the wondrous illustrations. Check out the work of the artist, Christian Robinson, at theartoffun.com - he directed and animated a short film called What Is Dance? for Sesame Street Workshop, and also worked for Pixar. Beautiful and inspiring.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookish

    This juvenile biography is a great introduction to the sensational Josephine Baker. Parents may want to read through it before handing it to their younger kids; it is wonderfully frank. While I might appreciate that aspect of this beautifully-illustrated book, parents of younger kids may not.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Maybe other reviews set my expectations too high. But I'm just not sure who would enjoy this *long* but still superficial picture-book except those already interested. I love the cover. I admire the exuberance of the poetic text. But to get a sense of the dancer and of her appeal, I had to go to youtube; I did not get it from the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    This is probably a very appropriate picture book for young readers, especially for those aspiring dancers. I made the mistake of listening to the audio version as my library is down to slim pickings already during my 40 day nonfiction Challenge. 2017 Lenten Buddy Reading Challenge book # 22

  22. 5 out of 5

    John

    Patricia and Christian are participating in a Sharp-Schu trifecta on February 25. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. http://www.indiebound.org/book/978145... Patricia and Christian are participating in a Sharp-Schu trifecta on February 25. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. http://www.indiebound.org/book/978145...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I loved it! The clever writing, use of different fonts, choice of colors and wonderful illustrations all come together to make one amazing book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leann

    Um, wow! Off to do some more research on Josephine Baker, for sure...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Peay

    Powell, Patricia Hruby. Josephine. (2014). I picked this book up for $1 at Book Off. My intention was for it to be infiltrated into my library, but I so enjoyed this book, that is mine! mine! mine! I knew that Josephine Backer was an African American entertainer who found fame in Paris. And that is all I knew. But she was more than comedic and provocative entertainer! She was a spy for the allies during World War 2, a civil rights advocate, speaking along side Dr. Martin Luther King at the Lincol Powell, Patricia Hruby. Josephine. (2014). I picked this book up for $1 at Book Off. My intention was for it to be infiltrated into my library, but I so enjoyed this book, that is mine! mine! mine! I knew that Josephine Backer was an African American entertainer who found fame in Paris. And that is all I knew. But she was more than comedic and provocative entertainer! She was a spy for the allies during World War 2, a civil rights advocate, speaking along side Dr. Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial, and a mother to 15 adopted children from across the globe (Move over Angelina Jolie - Josphine was the first!) She brought them up in their own religion: Catholic, Shinto, Islam, etc and called them her Rainbow Tribe. Overly generous and an extravagant spendthrift, she spent money faster than she earned it and had to sell all her luxury items in order to support her children. Forced to go back to work, but not a popular as she once was, she took any job that she could get, still becoming homeless. At sixty-seven she booked a performance at Carnegie Hall to rave reviews. Josephine was finally a success in her country of birth. Returning to Paris, she presented a new show "Josephine" to the best reviews ever! Unfortunately, this was her last performance - leaving the world on high note. Josephine is written in free verse, to a beat similar to one she danced too. Words are in bold print, all capitals, and italicized, to create the rhythm of her story. The book is a rainbow of colorful pages, some green, some yellow, some blue, with big bold water color images of Josephine moving from one destination to the next, seeking not only fame, but equality. They also depict her on stage where she loved being! The bold colors represent Josephine's flaming and bold personality and drive. It is a wonderful story of persistence and determination, as well as passion. I would recommend this story for Fourth graders on up.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Burroughs

    What a wonderful book. It's a picture book written in free verse [second free verse book I've read this month for #blackathon and I loved them both]. The story of Josephine Baker illustrated in vibrant, exuberant pictures, told with vibrant, exuberant words. I recommend it highly as a quick read for adults or for kids.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    Richie's Picks: JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson, ill., Chronicle, January 2014, 104p., ISBN: 978-1-4521-0314-3 "Josephine jutted out her hip, flirted and grinned, and STOLE THE SPOTLIGHT from Eva, the star. The audience howled. Eva, the chorus, the director-- all raged at Josephine. But the reviews raved, 'A BORN COMIC.' 'It's impossible to take your eyes off the little cross-eyed girl.' She made the white audience laugh, MUGGING FACES, GRIMA Richie's Picks: JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson, ill., Chronicle, January 2014, 104p., ISBN: 978-1-4521-0314-3 "Josephine jutted out her hip, flirted and grinned, and STOLE THE SPOTLIGHT from Eva, the star. The audience howled. Eva, the chorus, the director-- all raged at Josephine. But the reviews raved, 'A BORN COMIC.' 'It's impossible to take your eyes off the little cross-eyed girl.' She made the white audience laugh, MUGGING FACES, GRIMACING, and SIGHING through her exotic jig. Josephine soaked it up and kept the job. "After Shuffle, Josephine danced and sang DOWNTOWN at the Plantation Club, but she couldn't sit at a table and eat dinner with the white folk. She couldn't enter the front door." Having read JOSEPHINE, and having then watched a half-hour's worth of Josephine Baker shining in film that is readily available on Youtube videos, I am overflowing with joy and gratitude for being lucky enough to live in a time and place where the quality of technology and children's publishing permits the creation of a truly amazing book like this one, and the digital age in which we live offers us significant, instant access to the most incredible resources (such as 80 year-old films of Josephine Baker). I love how (the book) JOSEPHINE is, like the real Josephine, a rare creature. This 100+ page picture book is long enough to provide an extensive, in-depth look at the full life of Josephine Baker while still retaining the feel and flow of a picture book, with lots of full two page spreads done in acrylic), and text that utilizes large type, multiple fonts and expansive layouts. One of the aspects of this book that I am hoping young audiences all pick up on, having affected me so, is Josephine's significant, long-term, personal response to the racial hatred that she witnessed and felt as a child and as a young woman in twentieth-century America. First, she moved to a country (France) where the segregation of the United States just did not exist. And then, as a counterpoint to her fame and flamboyance, she invested the fruits of her success in her adoption of twelve children of varying races from countries around the world. "Josephine brought them up in their own religions-- as Buddhist, Shinto, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, animist. AT LAST, she felt the whole world was represented in her family. She called them her RAINBOW TRIBE." The story of JOSEPHINE is framed and told in the manner of a performance in six acts and includes depictions of opening and closing curtains. It does a great job of showing us why we should care about, and care that kids learn about, this mesmerizing performer and fascinating, historically-significant woman. Christian Robinson's illustrations are magical. Having watched the Youtube videos, I went back to the book again, and I can really appreciate how he captures Josephine's alternatively seductive and mischievous natures, particularly when you go through the book looking at his depictions of her eyes, which repeatedly come alive. Richie Partington, MLIS Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com [email protected] https://www.facebook.com/richie.parti... Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_... http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/facult...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    The life of Josephine Baker was quite notorious and not what I would have thought to be the stuff of a children's biography, but Patricia Hruby Powell has written one the suits both. Josephine Baker was an extraordinary African American woman. The eldest of four child, born into poverty in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906, Josephine spent much of her life caring for her siblings and helping her grandmother and mother wash other people's laundry. But St. Louis was also the home of ragtime music and Jo The life of Josephine Baker was quite notorious and not what I would have thought to be the stuff of a children's biography, but Patricia Hruby Powell has written one the suits both. Josephine Baker was an extraordinary African American woman. The eldest of four child, born into poverty in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906, Josephine spent much of her life caring for her siblings and helping her grandmother and mother wash other people's laundry. But St. Louis was also the home of ragtime music and Josephine, who seemed to feel the music right down to her very core, longed to dance to it up on the vaudeville stages. With the little bit of money she earned, Josephine went to see the show at the Negro theater, the Booker T. Washington. Her first step into vaudeville was putting on street shows, first with other kids, later with the Jone's Family, where she played the slide trombone. Then she got to be a replacement dancer with The Dixie Steppers on a real stage at the Booker T. Washington. And she was great. So Josephine left home and traveled with The Dixie Steppers to New Orleans, where she became a dresser instead of a dancer. When she ran into the Jones Family, the Dixie Steppers told her to stay with them - she just wasn't stage material in their opinion. But Josephine wanted to dance and so she stowed away on a costume trunk when The Dixie Steppers traveled up north to Philadelphia. There, they let her dance and shimmy again and at age 15, Josephine married and became Josephine Baker. And then she left Philadelphia and her husband and traveled to New York City and its beckoning Broadway lights. And the rest is history. From New York, Josephine went to Paris, where she was quite a sensation, on her own and making lots of money. And when the war came, instead of running back to America, Josephine became a spy. After the war, she adopted 12 children, all from different countries, all difference skin tones, they became her Rainbow Tribe. And ever after her lavish lifestyle used up all her money, Josephine figured out how to make more. And she danced til the end of her life, doing exactly what she loved to do. This is a beautiful book that just has such a musical feel to it. Written in free verse that mimics the ragtime/jazz music that Josephine loved to dance to. And, together with artist Christian Robinson's spirited illustrations done in acrylic paints in the vibrant colors of the time and resembling a vaudeville show, Josephine just makes you want to get up and dance, too, or at least tap your toe while you read. February is Black History Month and that is a perfect time for reading and learning about this strong, incredible lady. This book is recommended for readers age 8+ This book was received from the publisher This review was originally posted on Randomly Reading

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paige Christianson

    "Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker" is a biography about Josephine Baker, an African-American dancer, actor, comedian, mother, and role model from the twentieth century. This book details her life, beginning with when she started out as a child facing discrimination, segregation, and racism in St. Louis, Missouri and ending with her being met with open arms by the audiences of the world and living out her last years in the spotlight, once again. I really enjoyed this book and the "Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker" is a biography about Josephine Baker, an African-American dancer, actor, comedian, mother, and role model from the twentieth century. This book details her life, beginning with when she started out as a child facing discrimination, segregation, and racism in St. Louis, Missouri and ending with her being met with open arms by the audiences of the world and living out her last years in the spotlight, once again. I really enjoyed this book and the themes it addressed throughout it of perseverance, determination, and living a life according to your own plans. I also think the historical content it addresses is important for students to learn early in life. Racism is a heavy topic, but since it is still so relevant in the present day it is essential to provide students with the opportunity to form an open-minded outlook and a critical consciousness of the world around them. I would use this book in grades 3-5 because it is longer and does address some serious topics throughout it. This book could so easily be incorporated into a Black History Month themed lesson, or simply a lesson on important historical figures during times of segregation. I had never heard of Josephine Baker before I read this book and I think that by including lesser-known figures like Josephine Baker, students will get a broader perspective of the ideas discussed during Black History Month. I think sometimes teachers get fixated on only talking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks (both of whom should DEFINITELY be discussed) that they forget that there are so many amazing African-American people who helped shape the world today. This book was a WOW book for me for many reasons. First, the biography of Josephine Baker's life is so incredible and interesting that the actual story was very engaging and fun to read. Also, the book is written in a song/poem-like way which gives it rhythm, style, and life, just like Josephine had. Also, I think the topics discussed in this book are very important for students to learn and I know they would enjoy learning about these topics in such a bold, colorful story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maeghan K

    This book did, for me, exactly what I want a (children's) biography to do: make me want more information! I thought this was a great starting point, especially for younger readers, or for those with very little knowledge about the subject (this includes me; I knew nothing about Josephine Baker before picking this up). Lyrical writing, quick to read (but still informative and fun; you are not simply skimming and missing that good information), loooovely illustrations. I am enamored by Christian R This book did, for me, exactly what I want a (children's) biography to do: make me want more information! I thought this was a great starting point, especially for younger readers, or for those with very little knowledge about the subject (this includes me; I knew nothing about Josephine Baker before picking this up). Lyrical writing, quick to read (but still informative and fun; you are not simply skimming and missing that good information), loooovely illustrations. I am enamored by Christian Robinson lately. Such great art. I took the time to look up some of the posters and publicity photos of Josephine, and was delighted when I compared them to Robinson's illustrations. This book is well-researched and it shows. I was both delighted for Josephine's success and saddened by her circumstances, and the means which she took to rise to the top. I would've liked to know more about her Rainbow Tribe, but, with the rest of the more interesting facts about her life, it's more of a headline, and not much else. We learn the children's names, and that she raised them in their native religions, and that's basically it. Her desire to provide lavish gifts for them, and then throwing herself into poverty, kind of broke my heart. Aghhhhh. I just loved this little taste of her life. I would definitely pick up a lengthier biography on Josephine Baker in the future. The only thing that was jarring to me was the inclusion of the word "rape," which may lead to an interesting discussion with the child reading. It gave me momentary pause, because I wondered how I would explain what rape is to a young child reading this book. The narrative leaves everything very open for discussion, so this could be a good opportunity to talk about some of the harsher realities of prejudice, fear, slavery, and hatred in America, in whatever way you are comfortable doing. I appreciate that this biography didn't dance around this, as it's pretty uncommon in my reading experience with children's books.

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