Snow's Reviews > Jazz Age Josephine

Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter
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's review
Jan 09, 12

bookshelves: picture-books, reviewed, poetry
Read on January 04, 2012

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 without causing parents' eyebrows to raise. I particularly enjoyed that Winter points out that even though Baker left America, she never stopped longing for it; she just wanted to be able to be herself there, which she simply could not do because of the racism of the time. Winter's poetry feels like written jazz music, with enough rhymes and rhythms to give it a beat, but not so much that the story is lost. Overall this book gave me the basics of Baker's life and left me feeling like I'd like to read more about her, which is what I think a good picture book bio should do.
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