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Jazz Age Josephine

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  311 ratings  ·  91 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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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  311 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Feb 02, 2012 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
This is an excellent children's biography of Josephine Baker. Because it is a book for children, young children, the story ends with her success in Paris, and does not deal with her work in WWII. I mean, it's called Jazz Age for a reason. And, while the bananna skirt does make an appearance, there are no naughty bits.

What the book does extremely well, is illustrate the racism that Josephine faced as well as her determination to succeed. What is really wonderful is the use of language - you can s
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
All about how Josephine Baker became famous with her light-hearted dancing in spite of the racial hurdles she had to leap.
A difficult rhythm to read out loud, and the font coupled with the amount if words on each page makes this not my choice for a class story. I'm also wary of inspiring a student to study more, considering the risque nature of Ms. Baker's french act.
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
Jan 04, 2012 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
The Library Lady
Feb 07, 2012 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 11, 2012 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 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.
Amy Brown
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved the artwork in this book--vibrant colors, perfect jazzy font, swirls of motion. It's an important and informative biography. Josephine Baker was committed to racial integration and equality during a pivotal time in history.
Edward Sullivan
Lively, colorful introduction to this fascinating entertainer.
Jane Night
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this with my daughter who is seven and a pretty good reader. It is told in verse which made it a little hard for her to understand.
It is about Josephine Baker who was a dancer in the early 1900's (I think the 1930's) in Paris.
It did get her interested in Josephine Baker so we youtubed some videos of her performances.
She makes really strange faces in the videos which was alluded to in the book. So, I am guessing that was her signature.
Until we watched her performances a few things in th
Mary Sanchez
The book cover drew me in and then the rhyming, jazzy narrative took over. I learned so much about Josephine Baker's life and didn't realize how young she was when she entered show business or why she left America for Paris.

The illustrations with their movement and brilliant colors bring Josephine's story to life in a way that you want to read the book again to see what else you can discover.

A visit to Paris in the near future will give me cause to look for Josephine Baker landmarks.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this book is great for kids. The author does a good job telling about Josephine's life from her struggle upbringing to how her career got started. I also liked how the words seemed to rhyme or have some type of rhythm when you read it. Plus the illustrations in this book is amazing. It seems to start off gloomy and not so bright until her career starts to kick off. Then you all these bright colors appear.
Whitney Leanhart
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: helpful-tool, lesson
I absolutely loved this book and would definitely want to use it in my future classroom. There is so many lessons to be learned through this book and can really make in impact in a classroom full of diverse students. Everyone could learn something from this book. The author did a wonderful job sharing what can come from an awful situation.
Julie Kirchner
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting look at the life of Josephine Baker. I enjoyed the story and illustrations, but I found the text to be somewhat clunky. It sometimes has a lyrical feel and other times seems forced. Her story was unfamiliar and I look forward to checking out other stories about Josephine.
Nov 30, 2013 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
Kady Mac
Apr 23, 2012 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
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
Allison Reed
May 27, 2012 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
Elizabeth Woodruff
Apr 27, 2016 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 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 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 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 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 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
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
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
Abby Owens
Feb 22, 2016 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
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Jonah Winter is the celebrated author of many picture book biographies, including Barack, which was a New York Times bestseller. His books include Here Comes the Garbage Barge, Sonia Sotomayor, Roberto Clemente, and more. A poet and a painter, Mr. Winter divides his time between Santa Fe and a small town in Pennsylvania.