COCO and the Little Black Dress
by Annemarie van Haeringen
Publish date: October 1, 2015
E-ARC made available courtesy of NetGalley
The Sum: This picture book biography details the life of Coco Chanel, one of the world’s most famous fashion designers, primarily for her “little black dress”. She grew up in France, impoverished and living in an orphanage when her father could no longer afford to raise her. It was there she was taught to sew, to knit, to embroider, to mend clothing and made to work very, very hard. Young Coco had big dreams of life beyond the orphanage, of living among the wealthy, and wanting to be famous. And, she did, with a lot of hard work, creativity and even more determination. The skills she was forced to learn as a child enabled her to make a life for herself, designing and creating clothing for the wealthiest of women.
The Ins: One of the things I love about this story is the focus on Chanel’s free-spiritedness; rejecting the corset that was de-rigueur at the time and creating clothes that were elegant and comfortable for women to wear. Her independence gave her a freedom that was enviable to many women, and she became someone to emulate. The artwork complements the story so beautifully, it has a very “French” feel to them, with a dash of whimsy. The strong black line drawings with sometimes minimal color remind me vaguely of the Madeline books, another French classic.
The Outs: No author notes, bibliography or any kind of backmatter make it difficult to determine if this is actually a biography or a fictionalized account of Coco Chanel, but the brief details included in the book jive with much of what is known about Chanel, sticking to the creative, more positive aspects of her life while leaving out some of the more salacious information.
The All-Around: Similar in tone and content to Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews (Candlewick, 2007), this will make a fun read-aloud. Young clothes-horses will also find much here to admire. I’ll be adding it to my collection.
The best laid plans mean that I would have written this post 24 hours ago and had it ready to go first thing Monday morning, but alas, no such luck. Here I am at the end of the day, having a beer and really wanting to get this post up and published.
Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts hosts a kidlit version of the meme that Sheila of Book Journey hosts, which is the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading.
So, here are my few morsels of joy for the past week.
I finished a novel, huzzah. It shouldn’t feel like such an accomplishment in the summer when I’m not actually working, and don’t really have many scheduled things to distract me and yet, I find it to be my least productive time of the year. Sigh.
Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher. This one I read on the recommendation of a coworker, she really loved it and I thought I’d give it a whirl. I did like this fantasy/historical/mythical/contemporary fiction. It was three stories, three time periods, all swirling around the same themes and location. Took me a while to get into the story, but that lag time wasn’t long. This one will be going our section for 7th/8th graders. Some of them will love it.
I also sat down and read a bunch of picture books, most of them people have been talking about for so long, but they only just arrived in our library because of out of stock issues from our jobber, so I’m finally able to get a good look at them. I won’t discuss them here, you all have probably already read and reviewed them. Suffice it to say, I loved them all.
And finally, because I mentioned it above, have a pretty picture of my beer, with SLJ in the background fluttering in the summer breeze.
Have a great week!
The Queen’s Shadow
by Cybèle Young
for ages 6-10
Kids Can Read Press
Pub date March 1, 2015
In an intriguing departure from her usual fare, author/illustrator Cybèle Young tries her hand at a nonfiction picture book, weaving the fictional story of a queen who seems to have lost her shadow at a dinner party with factual information about how different animals see the world, literally. One by one the various animal party guests are accused of thievery, but each can find a way to deny the crime with explanations and incriminations of another poor soul. Every two-page spread features yet another animal describing how their unique vision capabilities allowed them to see someone else who was more likely to commit the crime of shadow stealing, and then includes an informational paragraph about the specifics of each animals’ eyes and sight.
The Ins: This title offers a great way to engage young readers, by fortifying a funny and sly story with some intriguing science content. The digitally colored pen and ink artwork is beautiful and very different from typical picture books, making this an interesting choice for libraries.
The Outs: The story gets a bit repetitive, and thus predictable after awhile. Some readers/listeners may find themselves a bit distracted.
The All-Around: I’d recommend this one for many elementary libraries. Pair it with Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye for a great themed read aloud time.
E-galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley