Thursday, April 21, 2016

Eleanor by Barbara Cooney (Picture Book Biographies from A to Z - Letter R)

by Barbara Cooney
1996. Viking Juvenile.


Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was an American activist, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States.


This book restricts itself to Eleanor Roosevelt's early life and education, beginning with her birth as "an ugly little thing" who was "a disappointment to her mother" for not being a boy. It covers the loss of her mother and father as well as her entrance into boarding school, where she becomes a special favorite of Mlle. Souvestre. The book ends before Eleanor meets her future husband, Franklin Roosevelt.

About the Illustrations

Those who are familiar with Barbara Cooney will appreciate these illustrations, which will put them in mind of Cooney's beloved Miss Rumphius. The illustrations are more functional than anything else, with lots of period details - clothing, children's games, etc. - and a realistic likeness of Roosevelt.

Author's Note

This book does not have an author's note per se, but it does include an "Afterword" which quickly summarizes Eleanor's life from the time she became First Lady until her death.

Additional Comments

Because most children studying Eleanor Roosevelt are doing so because she was the First Lady of the United States, this book's narrow focus renders it mostly useless for book reports and research assignments.  understand why an author might want to explore the lesser-known roles that Eleanor played during her lifetime, but as noble as it is to want to see her as a separate entity from her husband, there is not much of an audience for this kind of book among children in the target age range.

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