by Alan Schroeder
illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Florence was a remarkable child,
and that's a fact.
Pint-sized dynamo "Baby Florence" Mills was singing and dancing just about as soon as she could talk and walk. She warbled a tune while her mama did laundry. Everywhere Flo went, she strutted through the streets of Washington, D.C. with a high-steppin' cakewalk. Flo's mama and daddy knew they had a budding entertainer in the family, so they entered Florence in a talent contest.
Baby Flo went on to become an international superstar during the Harlem Renaissance -- but first she had to overcome a case of stage fright and discover that winning wasn't everything. Here is the spirited story of that spunky young girl learning to chase her dreams with confidence. A sensation in her time, Baby Flo is back, dancing and singing her way into hearts and history.
(synopsis from NetGalley)
I had never even heard of Florence Mills before I read this book. After reading this book, I wish I knew more about her and could see some of her performances. Unfortunately, there is no footage of her acting and dancing, and whatever recordings that were made of her voice have been lost. It's a shame... because at one time, she was quite the sensation!
I had no idea what to expect from this book, either. The cover didn't jump out at me or make me think that it would be anything special... but that was totally misleading. The watercolour paintings are absolutely beautiful! I wish the cover had been done as a full painting, and not with the tacky spotlights and lights around the edges; it doesn't do the book justice at all.
While this is a short picture book, the story might not be that interesting for really young children (though I'm sure they'd like looking at the pictures). The note at the end is especially sad, and talks about Florence's untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of 31.
I'm glad I read this one. Now I know something about Florence Mills, one of the biggest stars most of us have probably never even heard of!
Overall: 4.6 out of 5