Sunday, December 27, 2009

REVIEW: Eleanor, Quiet No More

Rappaport, D.  (2009).  Eleanor, Quiet No More:  The life of Eleanor Roosevelt.  New York:  Hyperion Books.


Appetizer:  This information picturebook shares the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, beginning with her childhood.  While Eleanor was taught to think for herself, she often was too afraid to speak up.  That, however, as the title implies, would change.

As with Pinkney's The Lion and the Mouse, this was another picturebook where no text is used on the front cover.  In this case, I kinda have to wonder why.  While this draws attention to the portrait, at the same time Eleanor, apparently, is quiet no more.  So...shouldn't there be words on her cover?  Should there be lots of words...cause she's staying stuff...and isn't being quiet anymore....

Am I crazy here?

Whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts on the title, there's no need to worry about it too much, since all the standard title information is still on the back cover.  Plus, this picturebook is FILLED with Eleanor Roosevelt's words.  I especially like that the end pages share IN GIANT LETTERS two of her more famous quotes.  Other Eleanor quotes relevant to the experiences Rappaport describes are included throughout the story.

Rappaport's biography of the first lady is structured as poetry, with Eleanor's own words in bold.  Every now and then, I did feel Rappaport needed to create a better introduction to flow into the quotes.

I liked the realistic illustrations done by Gary Kelley.  They included a lot of neutral colors and dark shading that I think matched the time period he was trying to portray.  The paintings of Eleanor--even as a child--were easily recognizable as their model as well.

Dinner Conversation:

"Eleanor's father adored his "Little Golden-Hair."
They talked.
She danced for him.
He hugged her and threw her into the air.
He made her feel important and loved.
But he drank a lot and wasn't home much."

"She worked with other wealthy women
who thought it unfair that
they lived so wee while
some American had so little."

"A rich distant cousin named
Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Eleanor.
He thought she was smart and honest
and caring."

"As unhappy as Eleanor was,
she was too afraid to speak up."

"She reminded women,
who had recently won the vote,
that they had important things to do."

To Go with the Meal:

I really liked how honest and forward Rappaport was about the fact that Eleanor had a less that stellar home-life  in her childhood.  I feel like that would be a wonderful entry point for a teacher to discuss some of the more serious issues that may be surrounding young readers (like having a family member who is an alcoholic).  A teacher can encourage students to take note of Eleanor's successes to help children talk and learn that they can overcome the negativity in their own home-lives and this can begin by speaking-up.

Other discussions Eleanor, Quiet No More can trigger include issues of class, child labor laws, historical gender roles, women's suffrage, the history and treatment of polio, *Pauses to gasp for air* World War I and the sometimes unfair treatment that returning veterans and wounded soldiers received, the Great Depression, the duties of the first lady, race and segregation, the Japanese internment camps...
...Wow, that's quite a list there.  History and social studies teachers, take note of this one!

For some activities, students can start assembling some quotes of Eleanor Roosevelt (or of other people interested in some of her causes or of other figures of her generation) and create collages to go on the classroom walls.

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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