Vision of Beauty: a mighty story of dignity and freedom

Vision of Beauty tells the story of Madame CJ Walker. And a fascinating story it is.

Madame Walker was born Sarah Breedlove, the youngest child in her family and the first person in her family to be born free. Her family were slaves in Louisiana until emancipation in 1865. 

Sarah was born in 1867 and lived an extraordinary life.

During her at once difficult and blessed life, Sarah married twice, had a daughter, and built a cosmetics empire. 

The story is carefully pieced together so that the historically verifiable parts of Sarah’s life are blended with the broader history of her communities and with just enough artistic license to make it easy to read. There’s quite a bit of text on each page for what is also a picture book (and the pictures are wonderful – sometimes troubling, sometimes joyful, sometimes full of despair, sometimes full of hope).

Beginning in the late 1870’s, each short chapter spans a number of years in Sarah’s life and we follow her from being a very young child who works with her family sharecropping, through to just prior to her death at the age of just 51. 

There are insights into the life of poverty and struggle that was the seemingly inevitable lot of colored people immediately following emancipation. (The author Kathryn Lasky explains that she uses the term ‘colored’ to be consistent with the time that Madame Walker lived.) But Sarah manages to rise above her circumstances.

In desperation, having lost almost all of her family and her husband and with her hair falling out, Sarah prays and then starts searching for a homemade cure. 

It's this homemade cure that is the starting point for Sarah’s empire.

This isn’t a religious book – there is just one mention of prayer – but it is certainly inspiring. Best of all, Sarah’s ongoing desire to lift others comes through loud and clear.

There are lots of jumping off points in this story too – mentions of aspects of history that could be more fully investigated such as the emancipation of slaves in the US; the Ku Klux Klan; the rampant effect of Yellow Fever and Cholera; voting rights for women; segregation, discrimination and so on.

With the story of Madame Walker tucked away in memory, we all may choose to work a little harder, forgive and move on a little quicker, care a little more for others, and remember our own self worth a little more easily. Such a wonderful book. 

VISION OF BEAUTY: THE STORY OF SARAH BREEDLOVE WALKER
by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Nneka Bennett - Turtleback Books, 2012
ages 4 to 12 years / diversity, powerful lives, s.o.s.e.

BuyNowButton (1).png

AMAZON - BOOK DEPOSITORY

Names in this book: Owen, Minerva, Alex, Louvenia, Sarah, Leiia, Margaret

Ada Lovelace's brilliant combination of imagination, maths and science — the first computer programmer

Ada Lovelace's brilliant combination of imagination, maths and science — the first computer programmer

ages 5 to 10 years
......... Ada is known as the first computer programmer as a result of a paper she published with Charles Babbage—he was the official author, but the footnotes were credited to her. Well, her initials were on them anyway: 'She was afraid her work wouldn’t be taken seriously if people knew it was written by a woman.'

Her life is captivatingly told, from her early years as a child fascinated with flying, to her marriage, her friendships 

Read More

in celebration of driving—10 favourite picture books

in celebration of driving—10 favourite picture books

ages 2 to 10 years
When Joan was a (very) little girl her parents owned a milk factory and she and her brother would ‘borrow’ the milk trucks and drive around town. It was a two person job: Joan on the gears and keeping a look out, brother Warren steering and giving directions! Hilarious and terrifying—but according to Joan, ‘just something we did’! .....
Since every adult in the world may now drive, we’ve gathered a collection of books about driving

Read More

do we still need reminding that women are strong and smart?*

do we still need reminding that women are strong and smart?*

This is a terrific collection of women who had an impact in the public sphere. Some will certainly be familiar, and some may be new to you and yours. It's an exuberant look at thirteen women who changed your life—and you might not even know it! 

ages 4 to 12 years (and up!)

Read More

success is not always about winning ... sometimes it's about beginning

success is not always about winning ... sometimes it's about beginning

Set in USA. Even though she couldn't vote, Victoria Woodhull ran for President of the United States in 1872. She was a remarkable woman with a difficult life who had a passion for equality and she gave her all to the cause.
ages 8 years and up

Read More

extremities require courage and resilience

extremities require courage and resilience

ages 4 years to grownup
Set in Mozambique, this beautifully told and illustrated story is inspiring and full of wonder in itself, but becomes even more so when the true story is told alongside it. It shows the courage and strength of a young mother in crazy circumstances.

Read More