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Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters
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Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  344 ratings  ·  91 reviews
As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled across the prairie in a covered wagon. Her daughter, Rose, thought those stories might make a good book, and the two created the beloved Little House series.

Sara Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, wanted everything to be different for her own daughter, A'Lelia. Together they built a million-dollar beauty empire for women of
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published March 11th 2010)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  344 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Atkins has written about the lives of three famous women, all of whom were born in 1867: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie. Told in a series of poems, these biographies focus on the relationships between these women and their daughters, each of whom followed after her mother’s profession. I knew the least about Laura Ingalls Wilder, so that section interested me the most, but I learned things I didn’t know before about Walker and Curie as well. Atkins provides a list of b ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
I am wrestling with how to review this book. I think there is valuable information here, albeit presented in an inexplicably popular, but to my eye unnecessary, format. I think that I can't get past the format to accurately assess the merits of this book, but I can tell you that I hated it.

I think I hated it because poetry means so much to me, poetry is the beat of my heart and the solace of my days. Real poetry has power like no other words have power. It can topple governments, inspire impossi
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All of you.
Well. This book is something pretty special. I didn't expect to read it, even after I'd heard good things about it (novels in verse often irritate me, and this sounded so high-concept), but it presented itself at the library and wanted me to take it. I certainly didn't expect to enjoy it, but I did. Almost five stars.

Who decided they could publish and sell this book? I can't imagine how that happened, but I'm glad.

I expected to be interested most in the Laura/Rose section, though of course I re
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I think this is one of my favorite books ever. Really.

Full disclosure - I know Jeannine and heard her read a poem from this book at a writers retreat last summer. It was lovely and poignant, but when she described the book as a collection of poems about mothers and daughters, in the voices of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie, I wondered a bit how that could all fit together.

Then I was lucky enough to pick up an advance copy of BORROWED NAMES at ALA Midwinter, and I unders
Loree Burns
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
BORROWED NAMES is a collective biography, told in verse, of three women: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie. Three extraordinary lives that at first glance seem unrelated are pulled close in Jeannine’s poems, which explore their times (all three women were born in 1867), their passions (work and family) and their relationships with their daughters (Rose Wilder Lane, A’Lelia Walker, and Irène Joliet-Curie). I was struck by the originality of this idea and I was completely ca ...more
In 1867, three remarkable women were born-- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sarah Breedlove Walker, and Marie Curie. Through their bravery, imagination, and hard work, each one left a lasting legacy, which was supported and carried on by their daughters-- Rose Wilder, A'lelia Walker,and Irene Curie. The stories of these six women unfold in this beautiful work of narrative poetry. Lush language and historical research illustrate the time and circumstances of each woman's life, accomplishments, and relation ...more
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought that the book ​Borrowed Nam​ es was kind of boring. I thought this because I didn’t really ever get interested into the book. I think that if you are going to read this book you definitely need to be able to pull out deeper meanings. When I first saw this book I thought it would be cool because of the title, but when I started reading it I never got pulled further into it. I thought that it didn’t really make sense it was written like poems and the way it all was playing out didn’t rea ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I had been meaning to read this all year. First it wasn't available anywhere close by, and then I forgot to put a hold on it for months. Glad that I finally got around to it! Really enjoyed learning more about these 3 famous women and their slightly-less-famous daughters. I was born in 1967, so it pleases me that the 3 mothers were all born in 1867. Because it's poetry, it's a very quick read, but still packed with interesting info. Maybe 4 1/2 stars. ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jeannine Atkins, an amazing woman who writes about amazing women, has come out with another new book that brings light to three incredible well-known women and their daughters. Atkins teaches writing at Simmons College and teaches children’s literature at University of Massachusetts Amherst. According to her website, she writes every morning in her window seat. BORROWED NAMES: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and their Daughters joins FINDING WONDERS: Three Girls ...more
Deb Hill
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love what poetry says as much as what it doesn't say, which provides opportunity to read between the lines, forming your own opinions and conclusions. I grew up reading the Little House series. As a child, I did not understand why they were not considered autobiographical. I did not realize Rose Wilder's involvement in the writing, either. Now, I can appreciate the collusion between mother and daughter. It brought them closer and continued the pioneer traditions, as they forged their way throu ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Another lyrical journey through the lives of three notable women, this time including their daughters. I didn't enjoy the whole of this book as much as "Finding Wonders", however, it was just as well written and beautifully captures the complex relationships between the mothers and their daughters. My favorite section was the one covering Marie Curie and Irene Joliot-Curie. The devotion that both Madame Curie's daughters had to family *and* scientific discovery was so palpable... it resonated wi ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three famous mothers born in the same year; three daughters who need independence and success; six women who experience joy, heartbreak, and success while also craving the love and support of family. Finding Wonders, also by Jeanne Atkins, follows the same verse format and promotes the contributions of lesser known but equally important women of science. Enjoyed both books.
Kris Dersch
Such a great book! Focused on what the women had in common, the mother daughter relationship, plus giving each her own section with an intersecting timeline at the end. An interesting and innovative way to talk about three very different women in a tumultuous era.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jeannine Atkins imbues the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and their daughters with emotion and complexity in this historically inspired poetry volume.
Debbie T
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good research and good poems. I didn't know the whole story behind these famous women and didn't realize that their daughters were strong and successful in their own right. ...more
Becky B
Three women born in 1867 rose to fame in different venues, and eventually each had daughters just about as famous. Through free verse poems, Atkins tells the stories of these women through the eyes of their daughters, providing a varied exploration of mother-daughter relationships and the roles of women during this time period of extensive change.

Things I liked about the book:
I liked the way three women born the same year in very different locations and circumstances were combined to give a bro
The Reading Countess
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
My school librarian purchased this at the Texas Librarian's Association annual convention for our school. She knew that I had requested it, but stated that the book could be used as a "teacher reference" only, since some topics were a little too mature. This is one book that makes me want to teach junior high...

What an amazingly beautiful book, reminiscient of Hesse's Out of the Dust. The poetic verse oozes beauty and grace. I simply could not put it down until the book was read in one sitting.
Kay Mcgriff
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Three amazing women were born in the year 1867. Three extraordinary women grew up to have an impact on the world and their daughters. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in log cabins and sod dugouts across the frontier. She told stories of those days to her daughter Rose, and together they wrote those stories in books that are read and loved today. Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, dreamed of a better life for her daughter A'Lelia. She created a beauty empire and took a new name--Madam C.J ...more
Laura Cushing
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at the library today because I spotted it on an endcap. It says "Poems about Laura Ingals Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie and their daughters" on it. I suppose it must have been prominently displayed because it's almost mother's day. Despite my strained / currently non-existant relationship with my own mother and daughters, I was drawn to it because I was interested in the historical personas presented and wondered what their relationships with their daughters were like. ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There is more than one book in my house that I’ve bought because it somehow called to me, and that I haven’t read. This has been one of them, and I’m sorry I put it off so long. I enjoyed it very much. Not only are the stories beautifully told in verse, but I learned new things about these women, one of which I had never heard of, one I know because of her books I love, and one I know only because of my meager science knowledge. Jeannine tells the loving and at times not so loving stories of Lau ...more
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Love, love, love--women's history in an accessible format. But that makes this book sound like a History Lesson or medicine or something else not entirely pleasant, but good for you. And that just doesn't do justice to this book.
I loved the women Atkins chose for this--on the surface, it makes no sense. But, all were born in the same year. And all had daughters that worked with them, so there's this interesting push/pull between mother and daughter. All the sections were beautifully written and
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was quite the intriguing book! I had no idea that Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam Walker, and Marie Curie were all born the same year; it's a very interesting premise for a book. There is a section for each person, and the content focuses primarily on relationships with daughters. Each have many, many obstacles to overcome, and are not always successful. Other than creating interest and making me want to learn more (especially about Marie Curie), there are many lyrical phrases in this book. For ...more
Whitney Riches
Mar 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I read “Borrowed Names” by Jeannine Atkins. There are three stories in this book, and they were all about famous women and their daughters. My favorite was called “Laura Ingles Wilder”. She was a main character from the “Little House on the Prairie” series. It was interesting to learn more about her life and all about her daughter’s life. My favorite character is Rose, the daughter. She moved out on her own, traveled the world, had many different jobs, got married, her baby died, and her husban ...more
Bridget R. Wilson
What do Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, and Marie Curie have in common? They were all born in 1867 and they all had daughters. In this verse novel, Atkins explores these famous women and their relationships with their respective daughters.

What I thought: I've long been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, so I was very excited to hear about this book. I was familiar with Marie Curie, but had never heard of Madam C. J. Walker. The research that went into this book was phenomenal. Through narr
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Who knew that Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marie Curie and Madame C.J. Walker were all born in the same year (1867) and all had daughters who helped them gain a place in history? I wasn't aware of this connection before picking up the book, and so I thought the premise behind it (a series of verse biographies of all six women) a little odd until reading about the common birth year in the introduction. Then as I got into the book and discovered how closely the three daughters worked with their mothers I ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The poems are beautiful and do read as a "book". I was moved by the lives of these women. Times changed so much between the two women that it was hard for the daughters to understand the mothers- they seemed generations apart. These mothers worked so hard and endured so much so their daughters could have and be more. It was hard to read some of the feelings of the daughters towards their mothers- anger, embarrassment, selfish. At the same time, the daughters were trying to find peace with the wa ...more
Kenadee Morrell
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Borrowed names was about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J walker, Marie Curie, and their daughters. It talked about the amazing things they did, and how their daughters were invovlved. It was interesting to see how much their daughters inspired them to do what they did. Like how Rose inspired her mom Laura Ingalls Wilder to write a childerens book.

The charater I could relate to the most was Rose. Like Rose, her mom and her were very close. That is how I am with my mom. Another way I can relate t
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendous novel in verse about three prominent women in history who achieved beyond expectations while influencing their daughters and ours through osmosis and happen to share the same birth year, 1867. Beginning with Laura Ingalls Wilder, the reader learns how she became a well respected children's author with her daughters assistance. Atkins builds upon the women's accomplishments with Madam C. J. Walker's becoming the first African American millionaire by supplying a personal need ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book of poems told the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie. It showed their relationships with their daughters and how these relationships were impacted by their work. All of the women in this book were very strong and powerful during a time (late 19th early 20th century) when women couldn't do everything a man could. They worked hard and raised their children to appreciate what they had accomplished. Many of the poems were sad because it's clear that a lot ...more
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The poems in Borrowed Names dive into the historically rich lives of three mother-daughter pairs (Laura Ingalls and Rose Wilder; Madame C.J. Walker and A'Lelia; Marie and Irène Curie) but they linger on the personal undercurrents, illuminating the ongoing push-pull of relationships where women both love and doubt each other's choices.

Borrowed Names is also an exquisitely honest account of how any creative endeavor, be it raising a daughter or writing or starting a business or exploring the scien
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Jeannine Atkins is the author of Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math, and Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott. She teaches in the MFA program at Simmons College. You can learn more on her website at ...more

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