Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Path to Kindness

Little, Brown/Christy Ottaviano. Feb. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316316415.
Gr 1-3–This look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s formative years seeks out the moments that defined the woman to come. Losing her parents and brother at an early age and sent to live with a distant grandmother, Roosevelt found her purpose first at the Allenswood boarding school in England, where she ultimately found comfort and support and emerged as a compassionate, capable leader with a strong social conscience. Becker briefly touches on Roosevelt’s childhood anxiety and sense of isolation, and how there was no affection from her grandmother. When Roosevelt attends school in England, Becker becomes more effusive, with flowing sentences to illustrate Roosevelt’s own burgeoning personality: “She was no longer lonely. And for the first time in her life, she was not afraid.” Mixed media illustrations speak to young Roosevelt’s isolation, often putting her toward the front of the page and set apart; as she becomes more confident, she is pictured in groups of others, with attentive body language. Endpapers are blue on blue with silhouetted icons from Roosevelt’s life.
VERDICT So many biographies focus on Roosevelt’s social activism and public service later in life; this work provides an origin point. A very good purchase for picture book biography collections.

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