Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Words by Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle Books (January 14, 2014)
Biography * Jazz Age * Women's History

"I shall dance all my life...I would like to die, breathless, spent, at the end of the dance." 
- Josephine Baker, 1927

Description from GoodReads:
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait 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.

My thoughts on this book:
For Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays, I usually try to review only books that are current year releases.  It's just the way I set up the challenge.  However, when this book arrived in the mail from Chronicle Books, I just had to share it.

I first learned of Josephine Baker when I was exploring different African American writers, artists, and musicians that were part of the Harlem Renaissance for a project.  However, I wish I had had this book when I was working on that project.

Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson make a dynamic duo with this book.  Powell moves through Josephine's life beginning in St. Louis and traveling through her life as she journeyed from St. Louis to New Orleans to Philadelphia to New York and eventually Paris.  Josephine found a home and place where she felt accepted in Paris.  Throughout the book, readers discover Josephine as an entertainer and also some of the other aspects of  her life which included being a spy for France and her tendency to live in excess.  The story is told through quotes, poems, and verse in a manner that captures the essence that was Josephine. Robinson meticulously matches Powell's text with vibrant illustrations that perfectly captures Josephine's personality.

At the end, both Powell and Robinson include notes about their research, inspiration, and process in creating this beautiful tribute to Josephine Baker. 

This book is a must add to your classroom or school library biography collection for middle graders. Look for it at your local independent bookstore when it comes out in January.      

Pair it up with:

by Jonah Winters; Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 2012)

Link up your nonfiction reviews: