- Age Range: 4 - 8 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 3
- Hardcover: 40 pages
- Publisher: little bee books (January 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1499802390
- ISBN-13: 978-1499802399
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 11.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #711,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe Hardcover – January 17, 2017
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Virtually unknown to all who admired her work, Ann Cole Lowe was an African American designer of one-of-a-kind dresses that were worn at high society functions in the 1920s through the 1960s. She began sewing as a child under the tutelage of her mother and grandmother, taking over the family business at the age of 16. Lowe moved to New York City and attended a segregated design school, where she was forced to study alone. She was eventually able to save enough money from dress commissions to open her own salon in Manhattan. Here she catered to the elite, creating the dresses for Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland in 1947 and Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding to John F. Kennedy in 1953. Blumenthal celebrates Lowe's skill and artistic merit—the timelessness of her beautiful, iconic couture gowns. Freeman's gorgeous, colorful illustrations highlight the patterns of the cloth, the tools of the trade, and the emotions of Lowe's struggles and triumphs as a businesswoman. VERDICT A portrait of the determination and elegance of Ann Cole Lowe. Hand to kids who love fashion and history.—Jessica Cline, New York Public Library
About the Author
Deborah Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and nutritionist who now divides her time between writing children's books and adult novels. She has been a regular contributor to the New York Times, as well as to Long Island Newsday as a home design columnist. Her feature stories have appeared widely in many other newspapers and national magazines including New York's Daily News, theWashington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Self, and Vogue. She lives in New York City. Find out more about her at deborahblumenthal.com.
Laura Freeman received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and began her career illustrating for various editorial clients, including The New York Times Book Review, The National Law Journal, and New York Magazine. She also worked as a computer artist in the men's design department of Polo/Ralph Lauren. Laura now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and their two children. Find out more about Laura at lfreemanart.com.
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The great-grandaughter of a slave, Lowe was taught to sew by her mother and her grandmother. At the age of sixteen her mother suddenly died, and Lowe picked right up where her mother had left off sewing. She eventually went to design school in New York, but had to study and work alone because of segregation. She eventually opened her own shop and designed one-of-a-kind dresses for high society women. Lowe is best known for designing Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding dress, which she wore on September 12, 1953 to marry the future President John F. Kennedy.
The author's note at the end provides more detailed information on Lowe's life, and there is a list of further readings, which are important and can provide additional information moving this non-fiction picture book to the next level.
Although the illustrations are vivid and bright, the book could have would have included a photograph of Lowe and/or some of the women wearing her gowns to further convey to children that Ann Cole Lowe was a real person, which is not always immediately apparent to young children. The book is listed for ages 4-8, so more explanation may be needed for children on the younger end of that spectrum. Additionally, adults may have to explain more complex words/issues to children like slavery and segregation, which the book only references, but does not really explain.
Overall, the book serves as a good example of a non-fiction biographical picture book, which introduces children to lesser known, but important figures that are often not given their due place in history. A thumbs up. ~The Librarian Uncle