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Jazz Age Josephine

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  267 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
A picture book biography that will inspire readers to dance to their own beats!

Singer, dancer, actress, and independent dame, Josephine Baker felt life was a performance. She lived by her own rules and helped to shake up the status quo with wild costumes and a you-can’t-tell-me-no attitude that made her famous. She even had a pet leopard in Paris!

From bestselling children’
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Feb 02, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing
When we try to name the biggest and best picture book biography authors out there, two names spring immediately to mind. The first is David Adler. Mr. Adler specializes in picture books that go by the straightforward titles of "A Picture Book of [Enter Name Here]". It makes him easy to spot on a shelf. All his books look pretty much the same with stories that reduce their subjects to a couple key points. They are serviceable in the best sense of the term. They serve a purpose. They also couldn't ...more
Barb Middleton
Boh-doh-doh-dee-oh! Boh-doh-doh-dee-oh!

Okay, now sing those words.

And while you are at it make them sound like some musical instrument. This is called scat-singing made popular in the Jazz Age and a form that Jonah Winter doodles across the pages of his terrific picture book biography, Jazz Age Josephine. I made the mistake - or maybe not a mistake - of not reading this book beforehand and when I tried to sputter through the zee-buh-dop-zows and boh-doh-doh-dee-oh it did NOT sound like any music
Margo Tanenbaum
Although it's early in the year, this new picture book by Jonah Winter about African-American singer and dancer Josephine Baker is already one of my favorites! Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis in a poor family, living in a shack with rats and no heat and went on to become an iconic performer in Paris, one of the symbols of the Jazz Age. At an early age, she learned to be a clown, dancing and making silly faces for money. Her talents would provide her a ticket out of what Winter calls the "g ...more
The Library Lady
Feb 07, 2012 The Library Lady rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-nonfiction
The illustrations by (noted carefully on the book for buyers) a "two time Caldecott Honoree" will attract adults and children. But the text here is dreadful. Don't know if it's supposed to be verse, free verse or what, but for a poet Mr Winter here produces something that is awkward as hell to read out loud.

Having read Josephine Baker's adoptive son's bio of his mother many years ago, I know quite a bit about Josephine Baker's life and I don't think this does much service to it. Winter talks abo
Jan 04, 2012 Snow rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I was interested in how a picture book would handle the possibly controversial elements of Baker's life. I think that Winter and Priceman did an excellent job of telling Baker's story and showing kids the hardships she fought to overcome, without sensationalizing her more exotic dances. The famous banana skirt was still present, but Priceman's loose-limbed paintings -- which are a perfect fit with the jazz age theme -- are subtle enough to keep the idea of the skirt with ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
After watching "Midnight in Paris" a few times since this summer, I am now kind of an expert on 1920's Paris. Kidding. BUT my interest in that era is piqued extra high after the movie and I was extra curious to see how a picture book would handle Miss Josephine Baker. The colors, and rhythm and movement were just right. Fun and interesting book about a fun and intersting lady. Now I'm ready to read a grown-up biography about her.
Jan 24, 2012 Kara rated it really liked it

Words and images dance off the page in this frenetic book that tells the many obstacles Josephine Baker overcame to become a world famous dancer.

The illustrations and poetry are powerful, but I wish I could see this done as an animated short so I could really hear the music and see the dancing.
Edward Sullivan
Lively, colorful introduction to this fascinating entertainer.
Kady Mac
Apr 23, 2012 Kady Mac rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The Teaser: In this picture book biography of Josephine Baker, little Miss Josephine sure was an odd looking child. To stop her from being teased, her aunt suggested that she entertain the other kids. And so Josephine learned to dance, every dance known to mankind and some she made up by herself. Eventually, and after some hard, hard times, she used her dancing skills to tour the country with vaudeville acts and even ended up in Paris, France where the people went crazy for Josephine and her act ...more
Nov 30, 2013 Theresa rated it liked it
Shelves: infm208
Jazz Age Josephine tells the story of Josephine Baker, an American-born French dancer, singer and actress, who came to promeninece in the 1920s—during the Jazz Age. The story begins with Josephine Baker as a little girl growing up in the slums of St. Louis, Missouri. She’s teased in school and her grandmother encourages her to “be a fool” and dance as her bullies taunt her, in order to stop them. The book also covers historical incidents such as the 1917 East St. Louis Riot, which forces Josephi ...more
Allison Reed
May 27, 2012 Allison Reed rated it it was ok
Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is a valiant effort to design a children’s biography about Miss Josephine Baker, the famous American Jazz dancer in 1920s France. Despite its beautiful use of color and movement, there are some shortcomings that are just so distracting that the book might not be the best that it has the potential to be.
As soon as the reader picks up this book, they may be immediately put off by the font choice. The font is not cohesive with
Karissa Kelly
Jazz Age Josephine is about a girl who became famous for her dancing. However, she started out in New Orleans stuck in poverty and scorned for her African American skin. One day, angry white protesters set fire to Josephine and her friends homes, and she decided to run and never look back. Consequently, she started traveling with a group that went all over the US doing dances and jigs for all to see, but she wanted more. Therefore, she auditioned for a show and didn't make it, yet the director t ...more
Elizabeth Woodruff
Apr 27, 2016 Elizabeth Woodruff rated it really liked it
Josephine Baker was a jazz dancer in the 1920s. She didn't always have a glamorous life. Josephine grew up in St. Louis with the blues in her heart. She wanted something more for herself so she started to dance. She knew many of the popular dance moves of that time. Everything was going well for her until the fire that broke out in St. Louis one night. She ran away and moved to New York. She was feeling blue again. Josephine somehow got to be a part of the chorus line in a show. But it was not w ...more
April Voss
Sep 11, 2012 April Voss rated it it was amazing
Jazz Age Josephine is a bright and fun book for children. This would be best to read to first-second graders. It is based on the life of Josephine Baker and how she escaped a life of poverty and racism with her entertaining abilities. Both the highs and lows of her life are shown for children and the illustrations go along perfect with the story. In the beginning the illustrations are more neutral to portray a sad and difficult life and as the story progresses and she becomes successful and happ ...more
Jan 30, 2013 B rated it it was amazing
This 2012 picture book caught my eye in the Library at Maxwell Elementary Spanish Immersion School and from that moment I knew I had stumbled on to something special. The free spirited depiction of Josephine dancing joyfully on the brilliantly colored cover made me open the crisp clean pages. To my delight, Marjorie Priceman exhibited the same level of detail, emotion, and artistic style on each and every page. I enjoyed the watercolor brush strokes and creative outfits and scenery that enhanced ...more
Kay Ray
Apr 17, 2013 Kay Ray rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caldecott-award
Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter is a book I recently read to my third graders at Brandise Elementary school. This book from beginning to end had the children's attention. This book introduced us to an African American singer/dancer named Josephine! She was from St. Louis and had a poor family that lived in a home with rats. She followed her dreams and was able to perform in Paris. Starting at first being a dancing as a clown then to moving to New York where she performs in Blackface. She was ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Shelli rated it liked it
Recently I read Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue;Josephine Baker was among the twenty-six women who played a role in the residence. Sadly when I looked into finding smaller chapter books or picture books on any of these women there was very little available for me to incorporate with our homeschooling curriculum. Thankfully I was able to find a few and this was one of them.

Jazz Age Josephine was an African American growing up in poverty du
Jessica Jones
Oct 20, 2013 Jessica Jones rated it liked it
Illustrator- Caldecott Honoree Marjorie Priceman
Word Count: 1,238
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 151001 (04/30/12) / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: NC770L

This book is a biography of one of the most famous African American dance artist of her time. The author takes you through Josephina's life from her harsh and hard childhood in St.Louis to her fame as a dancer. This book tells a story of a young girl who made the best out of her
Vibrant, lively illustrations bring the rags-to-riches story of Josephine Baker, set amidst the racism of the early 20th century, to life for children. The text was somewhat difficult for me to read the first time through, to read aloud I would definitely want to practice this one! But, read with a jazzy beat, it is so perfect for the context. The use of color in the illustrations is brilliant -- from drab browns and grays of her childhood in St. Louis to the bright colors of success in Paris. J ...more
I read this to a group of 5th graders and we agreed on a few key points for this book. The illustrations are vibrant and give the book a great feel, from Josephine's poverty to her life during the Jazz Age. We didn't care for the repetitious poetry -- it felt like a song and I had a hard time figuring out how to read it aloud. Without background knowledge about Baker, my students didn't quite understand the text. When I read the author's note at the end, my students were able to make more connec ...more
The rags to riches story of Josephine Baker is told here in playful rhyming text. The author describes her ability to clown and to dance, talents she used to launch her career. Moving from St. Louis to New York City to Paris, Josephine dances to acclaim in Europe, leaving the prejudices of her homeland far behind her. The author brings this iconic figure of the Jazz Age to life with his use of phrases that evoke her movement and personality while the goauche and ink illustrations provide a warm ...more
Abby Owens
Feb 22, 2016 Abby Owens rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This is a colorful story about a girl who grew up in St. Louis in a very poor family. Her grandmother told her that she would be a princess when she was older. As she was growing up she was always facing people being racist and stopping her from following her dreams. When she was old enough to leave she went to France and found the fame and fortune that she was looking for. She loved it there but she missed home. Fame wasn't enough to make it happy but she tried to find joy in here success.
I re
Apr 05, 2016 Kennedy rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
I thought this was a cute book, it was also pretty informative about the person the book was written on, Josephine Baker. This book is a watered down version of her life from the struggles of her childhood to her getting her fame in Paris. The book is written in a sort of song like style which is fun considering the book is set in the Jazz Age. Also i like the art style used for the illustrations. They are loose and sketch like but it isn't something that looks poorly done. This book would be a ...more
Amy Carr
I am not sure what to say about this book. I liked the jazz rhythm that it was written in and the funky, fun illustrations but I have to admit I am more than a little baffled at the subject matter. Josephine Baker was best known for her "exotic" dancing and performances. If you google her, you will get an eyeful of bare breasts and such. I'm not trying to downplay her accomplishments in the civil rights movement or her tenacity in overcoming the poverty of her childhood but I do not condone some ...more
Cara Byrne
Mar 09, 2015 Cara Byrne rated it really liked it
In providing a bold biography of Josephine Baker, this picture book is as lively and fast-paced as this legendary dancer, singer and performer was. Requiring the reader to sing and make silly noises while witnessing Josephine dance all over the page is perfect. In telling her story, which Winter defines as a "jazz fairy tale," Winter does a wonderful job representing her exciting time in Paris and her difficult early life, but he skips over her [tragic] later years. He does not steer away from t ...more
CH13_ Helen Budeyskaya
Mar 06, 2013 CH13_ Helen Budeyskaya rated it really liked it
I thought this was a great way to make an autobiography for younger readers. In light of the mood of Josephine, the entire book was written in a high beat way. Josephine was full of energy and that is exactly how this book is. The text brings Josephine alive and the reader can truly sense her thirst to make something of herself.

The illustrations are vivid and full of life. You can capture Josephine'e emotions through the illustrations. I really appreciated how the character powers on to make som
Jazz Age Josephine is a biographical picture book with pizzazz! It tells the life of Josephine Baker, the highest paid Broadway showgirl of her era. What is special about this book is that the text reads like lyrics to a song. Depending on your mood, it can read snappy like a jazzy song or read like foot-stomping blues. Author Jonah Winter did a fabulous job of stringing words together that transport us to an era of the 1920s. Illustrator Marjorie Priceman also did a wonderful job at adding life ...more
Teri-mae Delay
Nov 29, 2014 Teri-mae Delay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rdg-goodreads
Jazz Age Josephine is a story about Josephine Baker. We follow Josephine from St. Louis all the way to France. We learn that Josephine got her start in Old New Your in a chorus line. This book ends with Josephine in the spot light.
Early in this book there is a sense of foreshadowing when Josephine's Granny tells a fairy tale about a princess. I read this book to two young kids and they loved it. The colors made this book attractive and fits right along with the theme. It also taught a small les
Apr 05, 2016 Haley added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This is a story about a famous jazz dancer, Josephine Baker. She was a natural entertainer at an early age, but racism and oppression in america often stifled her opportunities. "The blues" seemed to follow her wherever she went. So she left america and headed for France where she was immediately a hit.

This was a cool story but the illustrations were what really kept me into it. The paintings are a little abstract, but very colorful and do justice to the story.

I would use this to teach a social
Arinn Wall
Nov 10, 2016 Arinn Wall rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of Josephine Baker, a woman who became a famous dancer and performer during the height of the Jazz Age. Born in St. Louis and facing racial prejudice, Josephine found fame for her dancing abilities in Paris. She became rich and famous, but never forgot who she was and where she came from.
I really enjoyed this book. I speaks to prejudice and discrimination while still having a lighthearted tone.
I would use this book to encourage kids to follow their dreams no matter what
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