Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Patricia Hruby Powell danced throughout the Americas and Europe with her dance company, One Plus One, before becoming a writer of children's books. She lives in Champaign, Illinois.
Christian Robinson, formerly at Pixar Studios and Sesame Street Workshop, lives in San Francisco.