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Different Like Coco Hardcover – February 13, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–6—A celebration of the life of a major fashion designer and independent spirit. Chanel was born poor, was scorned, and ultimately succeeded because of her own talents. "Coco couldn't afford to dress like the corseted ladies of high society and she was never going to be shapely. There was no point in trying to be like them. Instead, she tried to be different." Like Kathryn Lasky's Vision of Beauty (Candlewick, 2000), this imaginative tale should be shared with every child who thinks Jane O'Connor's Fancy Nancy (HarperCollins, 2005) is the epitome of high fashion. The story is accompanied, appropriately, by elegant pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons that capture her struggles as a young woman, as well as her innate sense of style. Viva, Coco.—Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As it turns out, Coco Chanel is a terrific subject for a picture-book biography. A poor, skinny orphan, she brightened her colorless convent childhood by sewing dresses for her dolls. She also dreamed big dreams. Once she was on her own, she turned her tailoring talent into a career as a dress designer. Coco, who was sticklike rather than shapely, designed dresses for figures like hers. Soon, her clothes were being snapped up, and thanks to her enigmatic personality and sense of style, she became a celebrity. Matthews' writing style is right on the mark, as breezy and appealing as Coco herself. Wisely, the author frontloads the book with stories of Coco's disadvantaged youth, which have immediate pull for readers. It's too bad that the pictures don't measure up to the writing. Although often amusing, and occasionally moving, they never capture Coco's elegance. Moreover, all the characters have snoutlike noses that are seriously distracting. Despite that, this rags-to-much-nicer-rags story is well worth reading. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 990L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763625485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763625481
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sally Derby on March 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Children's non-fiction books have come a long way, not just in style but in subject matter. How great that Candlewick saw fit to publish a picture book biography of, astonishingly, someone the average child is probably unfamiliar with -- a woman who died long before the child was born, from a country not much studied in grade schools, representing a profession hardly mentioned at all: fashion designer. But Elizabeth Matthews, through text and pictures, has made Coco Chanel someone little girls (and open-minded little boys?) can identify with. Chanel's story is a literal rags-to-riches tale, and Matthews' enchanting art work captures her heroine's style and joie de vivre (not to mention chutzpah, to mix linguistic tags) beautifully. The cover image itself could be posted on a little girl's bedroom wall. And underneath, perhaps, the words "Dare to be Different. Like Coco."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on May 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As Maurice Chevalier sang, "Thank Heaven for little girls" . . . at least we can thank Heaven for one who grew up with an independent spirit, and an imagination for corset-Less chic. Coco Chanel (1883-1971) said "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different." The book's end papers reproduce other quotations from this fashion icon, including "Fashion is made to become unfashionable!"

Elizabeth Matthews has written a perfect Springtime fancy, and the pen & ink illustrations are every bit as lively, just right for introducing children & their very willing parents to a story about the little girl Coco who overcame her tough childhood with sewing skills learned in a Catholic orphanage. She could hold her own with snobby students of privilege and learned much by watching her peers. She later hung fabric on mannequin forms and basted in her relaxed styles which brought her fashion immortality.

The author, who graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, chose Chanel as her somewhat innovative subject for children's picture books. Matthews is sure to have studied much about Coco Chanel and her clever "inventions" of the cartigan suit, and in 1926 "the little black dress." Reviewer mcHaiku isn't quite as old as the famed Chanel No. 5; it contained more than 80 ingredients, a new fact about 'parfum' for this reader. Chanel epitomizes a certain fortitude & determination that we hope young readers will try to replicate.

Perhaps they will remember another of her sayings: "INNOVATION! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create CLASSICS."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Josh Kurutz on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a policy I don't give book 5 stars unless they knock me down with their excellence, but this book is great - definitely worthy of purchase.

This is a wonderfully inspirational book for children. I saw it years ago, didn't buy it, but I kept thinking about until I finally bought it recently for my daughters. They love it! It sends very positive messages about being independent, creative, and resourceful.

The primary weakness of the book is its focus on the word "different." What comes out of the biography is Chanel's determination, drive, personal power, and creativity - characteristics that helped her follow her own mind and become "different" as a consequence. Too often in kid's literature and other media, children are exhorted to be "different" and "express themselves" without thinking about what they're doing, and they end up as conformists. Chanel was a thinker, and that made her different from all the other "different" people. By focusing on the word "different", the book sells itself a little short.

Some aspects of Coco Chanel's life during WWII are considered morally questionable, but they've been left out of this book to render a narrative appropriate for children. This is fine for the age group it's targeted for, and the simple story in this book is most effective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Dunham-LaGree on January 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Different Like Coco is a delightful biography of Coco Chanel, the famous fashion designer. The book traces Chanel's life from birth, through the death of her mother when Coco was twelve. Coco had to move to an orphanage, where she learned to sew. Women were only allowed a few jobs in the early 1900s, and luckily for Chanel, tailoring was one of them. She began making her own clothes. While this book tells the inspiring tale of Coco Chanel, who surpassed many obstacles because of her gender and financial status, the overarching theme of the book is that Coco Chanel was always different, and people always liked her. In addition to being a good biography, it's also covers history, including World War I, nicely. Although it deals with some difficult topics quite honestly, Matthews manages to maintain a hopeful theme. There is enough history included to attract older readers as well. I imagine this book is best suited for independent readers, although it would fit nicely in a World War I unit, as it presents a unique perspective on wartime life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pearls on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a long time Chanel fan, I got this book for my 9 year old niece and she loved it! Even though she is only 9, she enjoyed the story line of a little orphan girl who ended up being rich and famous. At first I thought the book would be to difficult for her to follow, but it really wasn't. It told Coco's life story very appropriately for girls her age. The illustrations on this book are really cute! I know that one day my niece will one day love everything Chanel just like the women in her family!
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