Josephine's Dream

Overview

The fictional story of Josephine Baker's childhood, this picture book showcases the dreams and the performances of this figure of the American civil rights movement. Born poor in money but rich in talent, Josephine Baker sang, danced, crossed her eyes, knocked her knees, and made crazy, funny faces—eventually stealing the show. She discovered it was hard for a black performer to see her name in lights in America in the 1920s, so she packed her bags and went to France, where she later joined ...

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Overview

The fictional story of Josephine Baker's childhood, this picture book showcases the dreams and the performances of this figure of the American civil rights movement. Born poor in money but rich in talent, Josephine Baker sang, danced, crossed her eyes, knocked her knees, and made crazy, funny faces—eventually stealing the show. She discovered it was hard for a black performer to see her name in lights in America in the 1920s, so she packed her bags and went to France, where she later joined the French underground during World War II. After her return to America, she joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking at the March on Washington—the only woman to do so. With lively illustrations, this book blends history and fiction, capturing this important figure's ambitions and dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
From the time she was a child, Josephine had a dream that she would be a star performer with her name in lights. Realizing that her dream would not come true in the United States, Josephine went to Paris where she became the star known as Josephine Baker. Fame and fortune were only parts of her dream, however. She fought against racism throughout her life. During World War II she worked with the French Resistance. Later, she adopted her "Rainbow Tribe," twelve children of all races. She wanted to show that all people, no matter what color, could get along. The lively tone and the message of this fictionalized account make this a good choice to read aloud. Controversial aspects of her life have been left out. The "Afterword" presents more information about Josephine Baker's life and her efforts to break down racial barriers. One small quibble: the Josephine Baker official web site lists her birth name as Freda Josephine McDonald. Stuchner gives Josephine her father's last name and calls her Josephine Freda Carson. Walther's full color, eye-catching illustrations take her from her childhood on the mean streets of East St. Louis to her glamorous life on the Paris stage, and beyond to her time as a mother. The graphic style will work well in a group setting. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2

Josephine Baker rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a well-known performer in 1920s Paris. Due to the mores of American culture before the Civil Rights Movement, she was forced to go abroad to realize her full artistic potential. In France, she was lauded for her talent and honored for her work in the Resistance during World War II. Stuchner's fictionalized account of Baker's life does not do justice to this complex and talented woman. For example, the text explains that she "sang, danced, crossed her eyes, knocked her knees, and made crazy funny faces." This leaves readers with a skewed idea of the performer's talent. The stylized color illustrations capture some sense of the eras Baker's career spanned but lack any kind of depth. Alan Schroeder's Ragtime Tumpie (Little, Brown, 1989) gives a better sense of Baker's childhood.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934393048
  • Publisher: Silverleaf Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Betty Stuchner is a teacher at a synogogue school and a library clerk at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of A Peanut Butter Waltz, Sadie the Ballerina, and Shira's Hanukkah Gift. She lives in Vancouver. Chantelle Walther is a children's librarian who studied illustration. She lives in Provo, Utah.

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