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Oprah: The Little Speaker Hardcover – March 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—For the first six years of her life, Oprah Winfrey lived with her strict but caring grandmother on a humble farm in Mississippi. Even as a small child, she performed in public by reciting and reading Bible verses in church. This picture book only deals with that part of the celebrity's life, showing the importance of her grandmother in Winfrey's childhood. On each spread Weatherford presents a short, lyrical paragraph about the child, then adds a single italicized sentence of religious commentary like, "God had shone a light on her." The choice of language and the extra commentary suggest the rhythms of speech and the religious culture that surrounded Winfrey as she grew up in the mid-20th-century South. Weatherford's text is similar in style to her writing in Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Hyperion, 2006). Unfortunately, this book is not as beautifully illustrated as that book. Ladd's painterly oils are well executed and do a good job of depicting the setting and time period but lack the emotional force found in Moses. Oprah fans will enjoy this book because it gives insight into the formation of her character, but for others it is a secondary purchase.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Oprah: a one-word name that’s a magnet for worldwide attention. Although young biographies exist about this phenomenal woman, this picture-book account focuses solely on her childhood. An author’s note at the beginning sets the stage for the true rags-to-riches story about a poor girl on a Mississippi pig farm who became an entertainer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Her grandmother, Hattie Mae, was the driving force in Oprah’s childhood, teaching her to read, write, and learn scripture at an early age. Oprah’s first public speaking was in church, and she was so good that adults called her the “Little Speaker.” The narrative portrays a bright, spunky child who didn’t let poverty or ridicule stand in her way, while the soft-edged, acrylic illustrations paint a determined, sober-faced girl. The book ends with Hattie Mae boiling laundry and calling to Oprah: “‘Come watch, child; you’ll need to know how to do this someday.’ And Oprah said to herself, ‘No I won’t.’” Even with the obvious message and religious asides, this is sure to be popular. Grades 1-3. --Julie Cummins
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The illustrations are colorful prints from realistic acrylic paintings. I like how they fill every page from top to bottom and side to side. The words are printed over the illustrations in either black or white, depending on how dark the picture is. The print is agreeably legible. It makes for a nice gift book, and I am thinking of getting a copy of this for my neighbors who just adopted a baby girl.
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Rated 4 Star