“Eleanor” is a partial biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. The book covers her early life from childhood to young adult.
Many books have been written about Eleanor Roosevelt. This book is interesting in that it only covers her childhood it does not cover her life as first lady. Writer, Barbara Cooney, describes Eleanor’s feelings throughout the book, e.g. “strange children frightened her.” Another passage in the book describes Eleanor being sent down to the parlor where her mother is entertaining. She stands awkwardly in the doorway biting her nails while being asked to come into the room. When she comes into the room her mother tells one of the guests at the party that she calls Eleanor granny because she is so funny and old-fashioned looking. Cooney describes Eleanor’s feelings about this, “Eleanor wanted to sink through the floor in shame.”
When you read the book, Eleanor’s childhood seems sad and lonely. Some children who also have feelings of loneliness or feel like they do not quite fit in to any group may be able to relate to Eleanor. I think children will marvel that this young child who seemingly had a not too great childhood grew up to accomplish so much as an adult.
Cooney is both writer and illustrator. The illustrations link well to the text on the page. For example, Eleanor and her nanny go to the park. There are other children playing in the park but Eleanor clings to her nanny. Cooney’s illustration covers two pages. She places the children playing in the park in the background; she places Eleanor and her nanny in the foreground. Eleanor is seen holding on to her nanny while her nanny talks to some other adults in the park. Eleanor’s loneliness is presented pictorially which will help children better understand her.
My rating for this book is five stars. The book is well written and the illustrations are well done. But Cooney never mentions in the text of the book that the child she is describing is Eleanor Roosevelt. She also does not give the year Eleanor was born at the beginning of the book. However, children will immediately know that Eleanor is a child from a different era based on the pictures. I liked the book and enjoyed learning about Eleanor’s early life. I think children will like the book too.