Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker


A vision of dignity and freedom and a powerful role model for girls and women of all races

"This impressive picture book will delight young readers as it gives a sense of this remarkable woman and the times in which she lived." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

"Lasky's engaging account moves smoothly through events in Walker's life. . . . The illustrations . . . are attractive and rich in historical detail." — BOOKLIST (starred ...

See more details below
Hardcover (1ST)
$16.85 price
(Save 6%)$17.99 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (16) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $58.77   
  • Used (14) from $1.99   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


A vision of dignity and freedom and a powerful role model for girls and women of all races

"This impressive picture book will delight young readers as it gives a sense of this remarkable woman and the times in which she lived." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

"Lasky's engaging account moves smoothly through events in Walker's life. . . . The illustrations . . . are attractive and rich in historical detail." — BOOKLIST (starred review)

A biography of Sarah Breedlove Walker who, though born in poverty, pioneered in hair and beauty care products for black women, and became a great financial success.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lasky (A Brilliant Streak: The Making of Mark Twain; Science Fair Bunnies, reviewed above) chronicles the life of Sarah Breedlove Walker, who was born in 1870 in Louisiana to former slaves and became the richest African-American woman of her times and a major philanthropist. Her childhood was marked by dire hardships: by seven she was an orphan and working full-time as a laundress; by 20 she was a widow and a mother, beginning to go bald from years of poor nutrition and hard labor. In her 30s, she experimented with natural ingredients and chemicals and created a formula to restore the health of both hair and scalp. Beginning with door-to-door demonstrations in "colored" women's kitchens, she built her business into the Mme. C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, by 1912 "one of the biggest companies in America." Lasky is better at conveying the young Sarah's suffering than she is at suggesting the texture of Walker's adult life, but she does a good job explaining the sociocultural factors affecting African-American women's attitudes toward hair. Bennett's (Gettin' Through Thursday; Cherish Me) soft-focus pencil and watercolor pictures suggest Walker's personality, although they tend to be short on action. Ironically, the illustrator's concluding note, in which she speaks as a black woman about her own attitudes toward beauty, may be for many readers the most affecting passages here. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This longer-than-usual, picture book tells the inspiring story Madame Walker, best known for founding a turn-of-the-century company that bolstered the beauty of African-American women. Lasky does an incredible job of getting to the emotional and character qualities of this amazing woman who did much more than change hair. Walker was the first freeborn child of a large, loving family. Life on their small farm was nearly impossible with the threats of poverty, disease, hard labor, and the KKK. After her parents' death, young Sarah moved to St. Louis where the stresses of early marriage, overwork, and poor nutrition resulted in loss of her hair. Inspired by a dream and prayer, she creates a concoction to rebuild healthy hair. She builds not just hair strength, but the esteem of black women by praising and enhancing their physical appearance and employing them as her sales force. Once she has attained financial security, Walker turns to the fight for the rights of women and all African-Americans in areas of culture and social justice. Illustrator Bennett, who, as a child was taught by her mother about the beauty and wonders of African-American hair, lauds the inner and outer beauty of the story's characters. 2000, Candlewick, Ages 6 to 10, $16.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Through a readable text and wonderful illustrations, Lasky brings to life one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in the United States. The author's research is extremely thorough, including interviews with her subject's great-great granddaughter. The narrative traces Breedlove's girlhood as the first free-born child of former slaves in Louisiana to her hard life as a laundress and single mother in St. Louis. The text explains that her interest in natural plants and oils to treat the hair of "colored" women stemmed from her own experience with damaged hair. Working with formulas in her own small laboratory, Breedlove began producing hair products. After her marriage to Charles Walker, she was able to open a factory in Pittsburgh. To sell her products, she enlisted black women of all ages to market them door to door. By 1912, the Mme. C. J. Walker Company was one of the largest companies in America. Lasky emphasizes the contributions of Walker and the company to the well being of black women and the community. Bennett's full-page watercolors give faces to the characters without overwhelming the text. Their pacing and placement help move the story along. This impressive picture book will delight young readers as it gives a sense of this remarkable woman and the times in which she lived.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
The girl who was to become Mme. C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove, in poverty, to ex-slave, sharecropper parents in rural Louisiana in1876. Orphaned at seven, married at fourteen, she was a widowed mother of a three-year-old daughter at only nineteen. As the first African-American woman entrepreneur, she transformed the image of African-American women, identifying and marketing products for their unique cosmetic and beauty needs. Lasky (A Brilliant Streak, 1998, etc.) has crafted an inspirational narrative that effectively turns on a succession of dramatic or emblematic moments in Mme. Walker's life: hearing Margaret (Mrs. Booker T.) Washington speak; praying and dreaming of Africa; being inspired to use herbs and natural oils to cure her hair loss; giving her own speech (the only one by a woman) at the National Negro Business League. Walker created a beauty empire based on direct sales. Facing racism and sexism, she developed her own formularies, designed her own advertising, built her own factories, hired women managers, and trained her army of direct-sales representatives. She validated pride, demonstrating a unique definition of beauty free from the standards of the majority culture. Walker's life continues to resonate as a model for self-realization, self-sufficiency, and community-building. Lasky effectively uses actual quotes while "responsibly imagining" situations to best reflect her subject's life and experiences. Lasky also opted for the use of the term "colored" as a more historically accurate term. Bennett's earth-toned, full-page, pencil and watercolor paintings add immediacy and intimacy while advancing the narrative.(Picturebook/biography. 8-10)
From the Publisher
This will delight young readers as it gives a sense of this remarkable woman and the times in which she lived.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Sarah was born in Louisiana in December of 1867 where her parents were sharecroppers. Orphaned by the age of seven, Sarah and her sister Louvenia barely eked out enough to live by doing laundry for white people. Soon even this was not enough for them to stay alive so in desperation they traveled to Vicksburg, Mississippi in hopes of finding a way to make a living. At fourteen she married as a way of escaping her awful situation, but five years later she was a widow with a young daughter and living in St. Louis. As the years passed Sarah began losing much of her hair and eventually decided to try and make a product to restore hair growth. Finally she hit upon the right formula, developed two other hair products and began selling them door-to-door. Sarah remarried, founded her own company (Mme. C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company), and went on to become one of the wealthiest African-American women of her era. This wealth enabled her to give back to the people of her race, get involved in politics, and work for racial equality. Incredibly vivid, detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations are one of the book's strong points and enhance the straightforward text. They fully portray the emotions, attitudes, and atmosphere of the story. Biographies are always in demand for reports and history units. This title, part of the "Candlewick Biographies" series, should be strongly considered for the first purchase list. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763602536
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.63 (w) x 12.13 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Lasky says, "When I was a little girl growing up in Indianapolis, I loved having a lemonade stand. One of my very early memories is coming into the kitchen with a jar full of money and my mother exclaiming, 'Goodness, Kathryn, maybe you'll grow up to be the next Madam Walker!'" Kathryn Lasky lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nneka Bennett studied animation and illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. She has illustrated many books for children and currently lives in East Orange, New Jersey.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)