"From the beginning the baby was a disappointment to her mother. She was born red and wrinkled, an ugly little thing. And she was not a boy." So begins Barbara Cooney's poignant and inspirational picture book biography of Eleanor Roosevelt's unhappy childhood. Born to beautiful and gregarious parents, this plain, shy, fearful little girl was orphaned at the young age of nine, and spent a lonely and isolated childhood living in the homes of her fabulously wealthy relatives. At the age of fifteen, her grandmother sent her off to Allenswood, a boarding school in Britain, and there under the tutelage of headmistress, Mlle. Souvestre, ugly duckling Eleanor began to grow and bloom, becoming the remarkable, poised, and confident woman America loved and admired..... Ms Cooney's well researched, gentle story is both fascinating and engaging as it captures the essence of an introverted and intelligent child trying to discover her true nature and talents, and is complemented by her marvelously evocative illustrations. Each picture is filled with meticulous late-nineteenth century detail, from the period dress and grand houses with their opulent interiors, to the captivating streets and parks of New York City, and country life on Long Island. Together word and art paint an intriguing and captivating picture of both little Eleanor, and the times in which she lived. With a short afterword detailing some of Mrs Roosevelt's later accomplishments, Eleanor is a superb introduction that is sure to whet the appetite of youngsters 6-10, and send them out looking for more.
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