Children's Literature - Tiffany Torbeck
The title provides a wonderful introduction to this accomplished female statesman. The book is split evenly between Rice's early life in school and her career beginning at Stanford and ending at the White House. Rice describes her family and upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama in a clear and thoughtful way. Many children will relate to her love of television and her tendency to procrastinate. Teachers will appreciate how the story of the first African-American woman Secretary of State will fit into a curriculum on the Civil Rights movement. Rice's political career is presented in a straightforward and engaging way that will help students make sense of American foreign policy. Rice describes the painful loss of both of her parents, adding a humanizing dimension to the story of her meteoric rise in politics. The first chapters are likely to appeal to grade school and junior high students, but the details of Rice's political career are more geared to the high school level. Public and school libraries will want to purchase this well written and captivating book. Reviewer: Tiffany Torbeck
VOYA - Ursula Adams
In this autobiography, Condoleezza Rice speaks frankly of her life from childhood through her successful adult career. Rice is an only child and, as this book indicates, her parents played an instrumental role in shaping the person she is today. The reader begins Rice's life journey with her birth in 1950s racially segregated Birmingham, Alabama. Born the child of two educators, education was of paramount importance in her family. Not only did Rice prove herself to be gifted academically, at a young age she demonstrated the discipline to train in competitive figure skating and as an accomplished pianist. Beginning college at the University of Denver at the age of fifteen, Rice originally intended to become a professional pianist. That changed following a course instructed by Dr. Josef Korbel, a Soviet specialist. Rice majored in political science with a focus on Russian studies. She continued her studies, earning her Ph.D., and eventually became the youngest ever provost at Stanford University. Her experience led her to Washington, D. C., where under the Bush administration, she served on the National Security Council and was appointed Secretary of State. This autobiography is a fascinating tale of how, under early segregated and depressed conditions, Rice rose to an outstanding political career. It highlights how her experiences and family created the political beliefs that she holds and professes currently. Rice is, without a doubt, an amazing woman. This book will serve as an inspiration for young female readers who are beginning their paths in life. Reviewer: Ursula Adams
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—The former Secretary of State recounts her life, beginning with her family history and childhood in Birmingham, AL, during the 1950s and '60s. From extremely supportive parents she learned that she could become anything she put her mind to, despite the rampant racism that existed in the South. A 16-page insert of black-and-white and color photos adds detail, and the glossary has more information on the many political leaders whom Rice refers to in the book. This valuable memoir about breaking glass ceilings may inspire readers to test their own potential.—Stephanie Malosh, Donoghue Elementary School, Chicago, IL
Read an Excerpt
By all accounts, my parents approached the time of my birth with great anticipation. My father was certain that I'd be a boy and had worked out a deal with my mother: if the baby was a girl, she would name her, but a boy would be named John.
Mother started thinking about names for her daughter. She wanted a name that would be unique and musical. Looking to Italian musical terms for inspiration, she at first settled on Andantino. But realizing that it translated as "moving slowly," she decided that she didn't like the implications of that name. Allegro was worse because it translated as "fast," and no mother in 1954 wanted her daughter to be thought of as "fast." Finally she found the musical terms con dolce and con dolcezza, meaning "with sweetness." Deciding that an English speaker would never recognize the hard c, saying "dolci" instead of "dolche," my mother doctored the term. She settled on Condoleezza.
Meanwhile, my father prepared for John's birth. He bought a football and several other pieces of sports equipment. John was going to be an all-American running back or perhaps a linebacker.
My mother thought she felt labor pains on Friday night, November 12, and was rushed to the doctor. Dr. Plump, the black pediatrician who delivered most of the black babies in town, explained that it was probably just anxiety. He decided nonetheless to put Mother in the hospital, where she could rest comfortably.
The public hospitals were completely segregated in Birmingham, with the Negro wardsno private rooms were availablein the basement. There wasn't much effort to separate maternity cases from patients with any other kind of illness, and by all accounts the accommodations were pretty grim. As a result, mothers who could get in preferred to birth their babies at Holy Family, the Catholic hospital that segregated white and Negro patients but at least had something of a maternity floor and private rooms. Mother checked into Holy Family that night.
Nothing happened on Saturday or early Sunday morning. Dr. Plump told my father to go ahead and deliver his sermon at the eleven o'clock church service. "This baby isn't going to be born for quite a while," he said.
He was wrong. When my father came out of the pulpit at noon on November 14, his mother was waiting for him in the church office.
"Johnny, it's a girl!"
Daddy was floored. "A girl?" he asked. "How could it be a girl?"
He rushed to the hospital to see the new baby. Daddy told me that the first time he saw me in the nursery, the other babies were just lying still, but I was trying to raise myself up. Now, I think it's doubtful that an hours-old baby was strong enough to do this. But my father insisted this story was true. In any case, he said that his heart melted at the sight of his baby girl. From that day on he was a "feminist"there was nothing that his little girl couldn't do, including learning to love football.