This brief, illustrated biography explores how the life of pioneering photojournalist Dorothea Lange influenced her art.
Although the oil-pastel depictions of human bodies are at times distractingly awkward, the mostly autumnal palette complements the text as it teaches about its subject’s (called Dorothea throughout) difficulties: polio, poverty, paternal desertion, and eventually, a family opposed to her “unladylike” choice of profession. After an excellent red-and-black spread depicting Dorothea’s darkroom, the returning tawny colors work equally well to conjure the Great Depression. Throughout, boldly red-inked sentences suggest what apparently drove Dorothea from her lucrative, private portrait practice to become the sole woman on FDR’s team of documentary photographers: “Dorothea sees with her eyes and her heart,” and “Her heart knows all about people the world ignores.” Interestingly, the text introduces the idea of “invisibility” as a photographer’s asset. It also stresses Dorothea’s perseverance despite her “forever-withered leg” and makes a clear, egalitarian stand about her subjects: “They are good people in real trouble.” Backmatter reproductions of Lange’s photographs greatly enhance the story.
An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies. (author’s note, bibliography, resources, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)