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Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (Clarion Nonfiction) Paperback – April 14, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A natural follow-up to Freedman's biography of FDR, this impeccably researched, highly readable study of one of this country's greatest First Ladies is nonfiction at its best. As a role model for girls and an inspiration to both genders, Eleanor Roosevelt remains unsurpassed. Freedman relates how she transcended both an unhappy childhood (her parents separated when she was six; her mother died when Eleanor was eight, and her father, an alcoholic, died two years later) and a timid nature to become one of the most outspoken, vigorous, highly regarded women in history. The vast range of her interests and activities--journalism, politics and social activism--becomes even more remarkable as the author deftly considers Eleanor Roosevelt's times and her social milieu. Approximately 140 well-chosen black-and-white photos amplify the text. Freedman writes both authoritatively and compellingly, and the Eleanor that emerges is a complex, flesh-and-blood individual, not a dull heroine of textbook history. He also deals plainly with some of the more sordid aspects of the Roosevelts' married life (namely FDR's infidelity), but he never sensationalizes, and his honesty and candor signal his respect for his subject and for his readers. This biography cannot be recommended highly enough. Ages 9-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-12-Fans of Eleanor Roosevelt will enjoy this detailed anecdotal record of her life, while those unfamiliar with her life will count themselves among her admirers by the end of their listening. Barbara Caruso ably narrates Eleanor's transformation from shy and gawky young girl to internationally known world traveler and major political force. Convinced that what she wanted from life could only be attained by "the opportunity for doing something useful," Eleanor seized every chance afforded her by her position as wife of the president to work for peace and prosperity both at home and overseas. Caruso's matter-of-fact tone matches Mrs. Roosevelt's personality. Her reading is crisp and no-nonsense-a good choice for conveying Roosevelt's pragmatic and self-effacing character. Listeners will want to take a look at Russell Freedman's book (Clarion, 1993) for the many splendid black-and-white photographs it contains. Highly recommended for both school and public library collections.ACindy Lombardo, Ashland Public Library, OH
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Series: Clarion Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395845203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395845202
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal, the Sibert Medal, the Orbis Pictus Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City and travels widely to research his books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kara Reuter on September 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This Newbery Honor Book, subtitled "A Life of Discovery," covers Eleanor Roosevelt's life in 11 chapters and nearly 200 pages. The biography covers Roosevelt's childhood, education, courtship, marriage and motherhood, entrée into politics alongside her husband, and her humanitarian work independent of FDR. The text itself is straightforward and easy to read, presented in a scholarly fashion rather than the sort of fictionalized manner of some biographies. While certain events are dramatized, no dialog is invented - the words the reader encounters are those of the figures themselves, from journals, letters, and speeches. The best passages are the friendly and informative explanations offering children some background knowledge about the time, such as this account of courtship at the turn of the century, seamlessly woven into the chapter on "Cousin Franklin":

Of course, Eleanor and Franklin were never alone together. That would have been highly improper in those formal Victorian days. When Eleanor visited Hyde Park or Campobello, when she met Franklin in New York for lunch or tea, even they went riding in the Roosevelt carriage, a third person was always present. If a relative wasn't available, Eleanor's maid served as a chaperone (38).

These frequent explanations offer the reader a broader insight into time, describing the conventions of the era in order to later set Roosevelt's often unconventional views and activities in contrast. This treatment gives young readers a strong sense of why Roosevelt is worthy of special attention. The text is accompanied by more than 100 black and white photographs, both formal portraits and informal candid views of Roosevelt.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a fifth grade student, I did not think that reading a biography would be interesting. However, this book captured my interest from the beginning to the end. The author provides many details about Eleanor Roosevelt's life both before and after she met FDR. After reading this book I really admire Eleanor Roosevelt. She was truly a determined, caring woman.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the books that you should really read. It contains tons of information about Eleanor Roosevelt. I had to write a biography about her for a project at school and I aced it! This book had lots of pictures too. I could not put it down!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Featherhead on August 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Following up on his acclaimed biography of Franklin Roosevelt, Freedman turns his attention to the equally famous First Lady. Like so many heroines in fiction, Eleanor was orphaned at a young age. She and her siblings grew up with wealthy relations, but the household was chaotic and the children were often overlooked. Despite these difficult circumstances, Eleanor became a world celebrity and inspiration to countless Americans. But it took her a long time to get there. Franklin always knew his worth; Eleanor discovered hers slowly.

As a young girl, Eleanor wanted to be a singer. But she was painfully shy, and a prominent overbite coupled with a receding chin made her homely, a fact which people in her family commented on regularly (one aunt wrote that "her mouth and teeth seem to have no future"). But in time she developed charm and poise, and attracted her handsome fifth cousin Franklin. Their marriage produced six children in 13 years (one baby died), and then Eleanor discovered that her husband was involved with Lucy Mercer, her own secretary. She ended their marital intimacy, and when Franklin agreed to end the affair, she agreed to maintain the marriage for the sake of his political career. That career seemed finished anyway after Franklin became paralyzed from polio, but with Eleanor's help, he went on to become Governor of New York and then president. After he died, Eleanor learned that he had resumed his contact with Lucy Mercer years before, and that Mercer had been with him when he died.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first president's wife to hold a press conference and the first to fly in a plane; her accomplishments swamp those of any other First Lady. She lived to age 78, and died a much-beloved American icon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
To my mind there are two biographers that write for children and that can do no wrong. On is the ineffable J. Giblin (author of "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler") and one is Russell Freedman. Freedman is best known for his well-rounded and intensely researched biography of Abraham Lincoln (entitled "Lincoln: A Photobiography"), winner of the Newbery award. Turning his sights to a slightly more modern personage, Freedman examines the life and times of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Every biography needs a hook. It's not enough to lay out the facts of a person's life and let them speak for themselves. Many times, a work examining a famous figure needs to go a little further. To find out what exactly made this person tick. Eleanor Roosevelt's life was not a common one, but it many ways it began ordinarily. Born to beautiful but distant parents, Eleanor struggled with her plain looks and her inordinate shyness from day one. Freedman is often in a position to demonize those people in Roosevelt's life that let her down, yet he never wishes to do so. Rather than actually say, "Eleanor's parents were negligent baboons", the author instead places the facts before the viewer. Examining them, we see that, yes, they were negligent baboons. But we have reached that conclusion on our own, without being told what to think. So goes the rest of Freedman's book. As she grows, Eleanor matures, finds strength in herself, and eventually becomes the best known (and most widely respected) first lady of the United States.
There are a few problems with the biography, though they are small. The book allows itself a small flourish occasionally. One example might be Eleanor's death scene, wherein the author supposes that the former first lady may have seen the image of her father upon dying.
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