Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic

illus. by Iacopo Bruno. 48p. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763668419.
RedReviewStarGr 2–5—From the team responsible for Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France (Candlewick, 2015) comes another excellent picture book biography, this time about someone less well known but truly intriguing. Adelaide Herrmann (1853–1932) never wanted to be like other girls: she was determined to stand out and dazzle the world. She secretly joined a dancing troupe, scandalizing family and friends. When that got old, the young woman learned to ride a bicycle, which eventually led to her meeting and marrying Alexander Herrmann, aka Herrmann the Great, a famous magician. Addie began working as Alexander's assistant and took over the act when he died. Life was never ordinary again. Rockliff tells Addie's story with panache, the words bouncing across the page, with varying sizes and typefaces to highlight and emphasize important ideas. Bruno's pencil and digitally colored illustrations are a homage to another time, with individuals and scenes made to look like cutout paper dolls and layered onto backgrounds. A detailed author's note provides further details about Herrmann's life and story, which was lost to the world for a long time.
VERDICT Picture book biographies about groundbreaking women are always welcome, and this one is sure to please readers, young and old.

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