VISION OF BEAUTY by Kathryn Lasky


The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 10
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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. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7636-0253-1
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2000


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