NONFICTION

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit

Little Bee. Jan. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781499809602.
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PreS-Gr 3–Beatrix Potter’s extraordinary life is introduced to a new generation of readers in this picture book biography. Marshall highlights not only Potter’s career as a children’s book illustrator and author but also her role as a trailblazing businesswoman, amateur scientist, and conservationist. In a time when women were not encouraged to have lives outside of the home, let alone run businesses, Potter paid to have the first copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit published. She then merchandised her books through tea sets, games, and toys. Her ambitions didn’t stop with children’s books. Potter researched and illustrated an academic paper on how mushrooms reproduce and submitted it to scientists, only to have her work dismissed because she was a woman. Perhaps most remarkably, Potter was an ardent conservationist and purchased and then donated thousands of acres of farmland in England’s Lake District to the National Trust. Urbinati’s art provides a pleasant backdrop to the story line. End pages incorporate sketches of some of Potter’s beloved characters. Source material and an author’s note about Marshall’s inspiration for the book are included in the back matter.
VERDICT A worthwhile addition to most collections, particularly those needing more biographies of innovative women. Empowering and fresh.

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