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Coco and the Little Black Dress Hardcover – October 1, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This modern-day fairy tale chronicles the rags-to-riches story of French fashion designer Coco Chanel. When Chanel was a child, her father sent her to live in an orphanage, where she developed marketable skills such as embroidery, sewing, knitting, mending, and crochet. As a young woman, Chanel found work as a seamstress and spent her nights singing and dancing in nightclubs. There, she befriended wealthy individuals, who often invited her to stay with them. Chanel took careful note of what activities and adornments the rich enjoyed and figured out how to improve them with her own flair, for instance, sewing her own pair of riding jodhpurs. Upon invitation to the races, Chanel bought straw boater hats from a thrift store and added her own embellishments; soon, there was enough demand that she was able to start a hat shop. Determined never to wear a corset, Chanel began designing functional dresses that included pockets. Her legacy, though, was her perfume and her Little Black Dress, which highlights the beauty of the woman wearing it. Van Haeringen's spare artwork is simply beautiful and reflects Chanel's approach to fashion. Vibrant touches of watercolor among delicate pen-and-ink drawings bring to mind Ludwig Bemelmans's Madeline. Infused with humor, this Cinderella-esque tale should appeal to readers. The book lacks back matter, however, making it more suitable for pleasure reading than for report writing. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase in school and public libraries.—Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
"The point is simply this, Coco and the Little Black Dress is equally appealing to an adult with a wonderful sense of whimsy and especially to those who may not be conversant in the history of Coco Chanel. Without question, the book is a delight to read and probably will become a keepsake for those who will have this read to them as a bedtime tale." -Jeffrey Felner, New York Journal of Books
"Van Haeringen's spare mixed-media illustrations throughout this tiny tribute are as alluring as her subject's timeless designs, capturing the eye with fine pen and ink detail, stark colors, warm watercolor shading, and Bemelmans-like playfulness...as a picture book, it is utterly endearing."- Kirkus Reviews
"Van Haeringen’s illustrations, black line drawings with dabs of color against expanses of white, are drawn with a precise yet whimsical panache that brilliantly suits their subject."- New York Times Book Review
"Van Haeringen’s spare artwork is simply beautiful and reflects Chanel’s approach to fashion. Vibrant touches of watercolor among delicate pen-and-ink drawings bring to mind Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline." - Samantha Lumetta, School Library Journal
"The line-drawn illustrations, often resembling fashion sketches, use white space and pops of color to maximum effect...the book’s simple elegance is perfectly suited to the story of Coco and her iconic black dress." -Julia Smith, Booklist
Top customer reviews
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The book is geared to children as young as four years, and my daughter was able to appreciate and follow it. As a parent, it is always nice to learn something from reading, and I did with this book. The book begins in the orphanage where Coco learned to sew then follows her career and how she observed how the rich and famous acted, but Coco was always astonished as their fashion choices. She sought to stand out from the crowd. Coco Chanel's story is fascinating, and the book does a great job of putting her story in language that a child can follow.
The illustrations are nothing fancy, but they work in this story. Haeringen pulls off the challenging combination of great story with great illustrations. Coco Chanel's story is one that many kids could seek to emulate, and Hareningen relays the story in a way that lets a parent talk to a child about what Coco overcame. COCO AND THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS is wonderful and worth reading not just for the story of a fashion icon but for the story of someone who overcame significant odds.
That said, I really liked Annmarie illustrations. They’re simple, beautiful and stylish, very fitting for the subject matter.
As for the narrative, I liked it, but i just don’t know if it achieves what it’s looking for. Maybe I was trying to find a clear life lesson, and there isn’t one (although many can be inferred, as deciding what you’re aiming for or following your own path). Maybe I found the description a bit simplistic, but suddenly muddled with some complex words (as jodhpurs or supple).
But really, what do I know? My favorite books are Fight Club and High Fidelity, so I’m not the best judge for this one.
If you know your children is going to appreciate a beautifully illustrated book, go for it.
Written and illustrated by AnneMarie Van Haeringen, published by North South Books.
#PB #biography #littleblackdress
REVIEW BY: Arianna, age 12 years, 9 months
MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:
This book is wonderful at summing up one of the greatest fashion designer's life. My favorite part is when all the ladies come to Coco for her designs. I love Coco's little black dress!