Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” as Want to Read:
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,188 ratings  ·  441 reviews
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful s ...more
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Chronicle Books (first published December 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Josephine, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Patricia Powell no. I didn't even know she had. She sang for the troops in North Africa during WWII

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,188 ratings  ·  441 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love biographies like this that are written for young readers.

This is a good pick on many levels. Strong women, Segregation, Civil Rights and more are topics to ponder. Ms. Baker came from poor roots, picked herself up and danced to her own beat. I liked the way the book was laid out starting from her beginnings in 1906 to her final years.

Just one thing for you to know Josephine Baker married Jo Bouillon, her orchestra leader. They adopted twelve children from different countries, brought th
Iris P
Josephine The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Written in free verse, The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson is a beautiful little book and a great introduction to the life of the indomitable and glamorous African American-French dancer.

 photo 84dde467fc50bde2ab2bac34f38fc492_zpsnnytkguc.jpg
The book features wonderful vivid illustrations of Josephine Baker life and career.

Although I watched documentaries and at least one biopic movie based on her life, this children's book still taught
Like many others, I have long been fascinated with Josephine Baker and saddened that she had to leave the nation of her birth in order to find success. This loving tribute to her talents as a dancer and comedian is filled with wonderful details that bring her to life. As I read the book and noted the vivid acrylic illustrations, I felt as though I could almost see her as she moved across the stage. The book covers each period of her life, beginning with her childhood poverty in St. Louis, and fo ...more
Anna Olswanger
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is a middle-grade biography of Josephine Baker, the African-American dancer who made it big in Paris in the 1920’s when this country was too racist to accept a "colored" super-star. Patricia Hruby Powell's Josephine , told in blank verse, is a wild dance, like Josephine’s life. And the author, who has been a solo concert dancer throughout the Americas and Europe, seems to be the right person to tell the story.

In 1925 Josephine Baker was catapult
Marjorie Ingall
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Officially my daughter Josephine is named after my husband's Papa Joe.


Anyway, the art is the star here. The text is good, poetic, syncopated, jazzy, and it definitely doesn't shy away from talking about the racist environments Ms Baker traveled and triumphed in. It's a kids' book, so it dances around the way she played with sexual stereotypes about Black women a bit, but the book absolutely leaves room for a parent to have that discussion.

So that's the text. But the art. THE ART.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this little biography of Josephine Baker. Josephine Baker seemed like she had loads and loads of life and warmth in her. Thanks to the song-like structure of her story, and the use of different sizes of text, she practically dances off the page.
Aimee Dars
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker is told through a narrative poem, at times humorous, at times deeply upsetting, that should both challenge and reward young readers with its style and vocabulary.

Hooked on wires,
she held bow and arrow.
But her wires got crossed.
Couldn’t get down.
Hanging in midair,
she rolled her eyes like shooting marbles,
flailed those long legs.

From her impoverished childhood in Saint Louis where she witnessed race riots to her glory days in Paris and
David Schaafsma
Josephine Baker was a dancer who moved from a very racist country for African Americans in the twenties to a less racist one, France, to the U.S.'s loss and shame. She was an humanitarian, helped the cause of France in WWII, and as a dancer, and civil rights activist, she was internationally famous. Powell, who writes this biography, was also a dancer so in her blank verse captures the spirit of dance and Josephine as dancer, but the artwork by Christian Powell is even better than the story, in ...more
I loved the illustrations and the biographical feel of the poetry.
I like that this book touches on (if very, very lightly) Josephine's many different adventures and not just her entertainment career. It might have been fun to have less words from the author about the journey of the book's research and more illustrations and story about Josephine. She seemed like such and interesting person. I'm glad that now kids at least have this basic introduction to her glitzy, troubled, passionate world. References of source material for the story and Josephine's quotatio ...more
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Josephine Baker loved to dance. As a young girl in poverty in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine danced to keep warm (for she had no stockings). Ms. Baker grew up in a time of segregation and didn’t have the chances that she would have if she were white. Josephine decided she would show the world and make it as a dancer and performer. When given the chance, young Ms. Baker hooked up with some vaudeville performers as a dancer. Her energy and out right silliness stole the show from the other dancers. ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I LOVED this book! And I love it when a book I don't expect to like enchants me. All I knew about Josephine Baker before I read this book was that she was an African American entertainer. I didn't know she served in the military during World War II, or that she adopted 12 children. I didn't know she was a civil rights advocate. Author Powell obviously is a big fan of Josephine, because she writes with such enthusiasm--the text reads like poetry. I love the sound of her words-- this book would ma ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
Roses: The illustrations are GORGEOUS. I'm not very familiar with the illustrator's (Christian Robinson) work before this book, but I'll definitely be on the lookout from now on. They were so lively, fun, and just plain beautiful!

Thorns: I didn't really care for the author's use of poetry to tell the story of Josephine Baker. I mean...I get why she did it-to convey the artistry, jazz, and liveliness of her life. I got bored with it though. And I'm wondering if a child would like it or get into
Grace Laperuto
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
This is a truly dazzling story of the life of Josephine Baker; a dancer and civil rights activist from the Jazz age. Patricia Hruby Powell, a dancer herself, thouroughly researched her subject; from the slums of St. Louis to the big stage in Paris, France. This is an inspiring story of hard work, strength, and triumph. I love reading stories like these to my children for it's ability to educate and empower.

I recognized the illustration in this book right away, and upon looking up the illustrato
This is the type of book I would want to take more time to savor than I currently have available, especially to read the poetry aloud. I was impressed by how Powell incorporated quotes and biographical facts into the poetry without breaking the feel of the form. Robinson's illustrations are all about the angles and the bright, saturated colors - especially that sunshiney yellow that pops off the page. The whole thing makes me want to seek out some of Josephine's recordings to see her in action m ...more
Captures the vibrant spirit of Josephine Baker and skillfully balances the joy, explosiveness, and upward trajectory of her amazing career with the fear and despair of an impoverished childhood and the taint of racism in the segregated United States. My daughter and I both loved her story and the wondrous illustrations. Check out the work of the artist, Christian Robinson, at - he directed and animated a short film called What Is Dance? for Sesame Street Workshop, and also worked ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe other reviews set my expectations too high. But I'm just not sure who would enjoy this *long* but still superficial picture-book except those already interested. I love the cover. I admire the exuberance of the poetic text. But to get a sense of the dancer and of her appeal, I had to go to youtube; I did not get it from the book.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile, biography
This juvenile biography is a great introduction to the sensational Josephine Baker. Parents may want to read through it before handing it to their younger kids; it is wonderfully frank. While I might appreciate that aspect of this beautifully-illustrated book, parents of younger kids may not.
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book! I knew very little of Josephine Baker and this was greatly informative but written very stylistically. I had no idea she had helped out in the Red Cross and spied during WWII. The illustrations were perfect with the writing and Josephine herself.

(I'm really, REALLY hoping this book sparks a gorgeous biopic of her in the near future...)
BAM The Bibliomaniac
This is probably a very appropriate picture book for young readers, especially for those aspiring dancers. I made the mistake of listening to the audio version as my library is down to slim pickings already during my 40 day nonfiction Challenge.

2017 Lenten Buddy Reading Challenge book # 22
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, children-s
I loved it! The clever writing, use of different fonts, choice of colors and wonderful illustrations all come together to make one amazing book!
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Patricia and Christian are participating in a Sharp-Schu trifecta on February 25.

Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.
Um, wow! Off to do some more research on Josephine Baker, for sure...
Patricia Burroughs
What a wonderful book. It's a picture book written in free verse [second free verse book I've read this month for #blackathon and I loved them both].

The story of Josephine Baker illustrated in vibrant, exuberant pictures, told with vibrant, exuberant words.

I recommend it highly as a quick read for adults or for kids.
Richie Partington
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie's Picks: JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson, ill., Chronicle, January 2014, 104p., ISBN: 978-1-4521-0314-3

"Josephine jutted out her hip, flirted and grinned,
and STOLE THE SPOTLIGHT from Eva, the star.
The audience howled.
Eva, the chorus, the director--
all raged at Josephine.
But the reviews raved, 'A BORN COMIC.'
'It's impossible to take your eyes off the little cross-eyed girl.'
She made the white audience laugh,
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
The life of Josephine Baker was quite notorious and not what I would have thought to be the stuff of a children's biography, but Patricia Hruby Powell has written one the suits both. Josephine Baker was an extraordinary African American woman. The eldest of four child, born into poverty in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906, Josephine spent much of her life caring for her siblings and helping her grandmother and mother wash other people's laundry.

But St. Louis was also the home of ragtime music and Jo
Paige Christianson
"Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker" is a biography about Josephine Baker, an African-American dancer, actor, comedian, mother, and role model from the twentieth century. This book details her life, beginning with when she started out as a child facing discrimination, segregation, and racism in St. Louis, Missouri and ending with her being met with open arms by the audiences of the world and living out her last years in the spotlight, once again. I really enjoyed this book and the ...more
Maeghan D
This book did, for me, exactly what I want a (children's) biography to do: make me want more information! I thought this was a great starting point, especially for younger readers, or for those with very little knowledge about the subject (this includes me; I knew nothing about Josephine Baker before picking this up). Lyrical writing, quick to read (but still informative and fun; you are not simply skimming and missing that good information), loooovely illustrations. I am enamored by Christian R ...more
Dawn Keys
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! This well written biography has been given many honors, including the Coretta Scott King and Sibert awards. The library school journal recommends reading this for grades 5-8. I think it is appropriate for upper elementary grades and middle school students. This biography is told in verse and is the story of Josephine Baker's life. It begins with her early ambition to escape the life of poverty she is born into through dance. She has a sense from the beginning she is destined f ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book: Nonfiction, Picture Book

Copyright Date: 2014

Estimate of age level of interest: 4th-6th Grade

Estimate of reading level: 5th Grade

Brief description: Explore the dazzling life of Josephine Baker; her amazing drive to achieve her dreams to her desire to make the world a better place.

Identify at least 2 characteristics of this genre and subgenre and discuss how they appear in your book: Picture books use text and illustration in tandem to tell
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Coretta Scott Kin...: Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker 1 4 Jul 18, 2015 04:40PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Poem for Peter
  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
  • The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening
  • Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills
  • Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
  • The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber
  • The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid
  • Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
  • Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
  • Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
  • The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
  • Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
  • Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery
  • Before She Was Harriet
  • Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten
See similar books…
Patricia Hruby Powell is the author of Josephine: the Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle 2014), illustrated by Christian Robinson, (Sibert, CSK, Boston Globe Horn Book, Ragazzi International Honoree; Parent's Choice Gold, etc.) and Loving vs. Virginia (Chronicle 2017) illustrated by Shadra Strickland and three other books. Forthcoming is: Struttin' With Some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong ...more