Gr 3-5-An interesting portrait of a little-known African-American entrepreneur. Born in 1867 on a Louisiana cotton plantation, Walker eventually became one of America's most successful and wealthy businesswomen. While working as a washerwoman in St. Louis, she was inspired to create her own hair-care products. She then moved to Denver, perfected her products, and started her business. In a short time, her preparations became well known throughout the U.S. and around the world, and her manufacturing company increased in size and scope. Colman vividly describes the social conditions of the late-19th century, making Walker's triumphs over numerous hardships come alive for young readers. Wide margins, attractively placed black-and-white and full-color photographs, and the use of large type make the book appealing. Although no sources are given for quotes used within the text, a list of books for ``Further Information,'' a detailed chronology, and a useful index are included. An introduction that should encourage children to learn more about this successful woman.-April L. Judge, Association for Library Service to Children, ALA, Chicago
In her 51 short years of life, Madame C. J. Walker became one of the wealthiest women of the early twentieth century. Born Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation only two years after the end of the Civil War, Walker early learned the value of hard work. Orphaned as a seven-year-old, she took in white people's washing until she discovered her secret hair-care formula at age 37. She not only created a personal beauty empire, but she also employed hundreds of black women in jobs that removed them from the servant category to which their color had relegated them. While the text on the page is dense and the illustrations sparse for a book targeted to this audience, the reading level itself is sufficiently low to be classified "easy-to-read." Above all, Colman creates a portrait of a fascinating woman whom children will admire.