Children's Literature - Marilyn CourtotHard work, intelligence and a belief in yourself can go a long way, but Sarah Breedlove McWilliams a.k.a. Madam C. J. Walker is a real inspiration. Close to forty, she pulled up stakes and went to Denver to open up her own business selling hair care products to African American Women. She prospered and eventually established a factory and in just seven years she had a network of 1500 agents. Although she lacked formal education, Walker hired tutors for herself and was a strong supporter of education. She made contributions to schools and even established Leila College to train her agents. She became a millionaire and unfortunately died fourteen years after establishing the business. The concluding chapter brings readers up to date about the fate of the company, her daughter and adopted granddaughter as well as the beautiful homes she owned in New York. This interesting biography, which features selected black-and-white photographs and illustrations, also includes a chronology, notes and index. Part of the "African-American Biographies" series.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-8-This book about an interesting and dynamic figure is, unfortunately, formulaic and lacking in detail. The first chapter summarizes Walker's life; subsequent chapters reiterate this summary and add few facts. Historical background explains and supports the biographical material; however, the woman's life remains sketchy. Although the chronological sequence is accurate, the potential for confusion arises due to the way the author handles the multiple marriages and name changes-not just the subject's, but among her family members as well. For example, her daughter, born Lelia McWilliams, changed her name to A'Lelia as an adult. Later, McWilliams is dropped, and replaced by Walker. (Madam's third husband was named Walker.) Still later, A'Lelia's multiple marriages create four name changes within three pages. Chapter notes list the author's sources. These citations are from recent publications, including A'Lelia Perry Bundles's biography of her great-great grandmother, Madam C. J. Walker, Entrepreneur (Chelsea, 1991). The black-and-white photos are small but appropriately placed, and have adequate captions. The material in this biography is neither new nor unique. Bundles's book (a source for much of this work) is a better first choice. Since Yannuzzi's title only rehashes existing materials, it is not a primary purchase.-Carolyn Janssen, Rockford Public Library, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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