Review: Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell

Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle Books
Published December 1, 2013

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker on Goodreads

My Review

I must have purchased this book when it was on sale a while ago and then forgotten that I had it until today when I was searching through a list of nonfiction e-books that I own. I’m sure I bought it because of having read and really enjoyed Patricia Hruby Powell’s book LOVING VS. VIRGINIA, which is about a couple involved in the civil rights case to legalize interracial marriage.

Since I’d read that book, I knew I loved Powell’s emotive storytelling, so I was really excited when I saw that she’d written another book, this one a biography.

When I started reading, I intended to kind of just skim the first few pages and get a feel for the book so I could put it in my blogging calendar… but I couldn’t stop reading. I fell headfirst into the incredible story of the bright, indomitable spirit of Josephine Baker and didn’t surface until the last page. She’s amazing. The stories of her performances, her daring, her ability to make audiences roar with laughter captivated me. And THEN.


World War II happens, and she becomes a spy for the Allies. She writes messages in invisible ink on her music sheets. I was blown away, but honestly, I shouldn’t have been, because that’s exactly the kind of courage and boldness that run throughout her entire story. What a truly amazing person.

At any rate, I loved this book. It’s a pretty quick read, but between the beautiful illustrations and the strong, spare storytelling, this is a book that demands to be read. I can’t even say how much I loved it. And now I only want to know more about Josephine Baker! I had no idea who she was before picking up this book, and I’m only sorry it took me until now to learn about her.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

This book tells the life story of Black dancer, actor, and performer, Josephine Baker. The story shows her feelings in response to segregation and racist/colorist behavior around her.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief mentions of her marriage.

Spiritual Content
Josephine adopted twelve children from various countries and brought them up with the spirituality of their cultures. She wanted to show that people of different races and religious values could grow up side by side and love one another like brothers.

Violent Content
Brief mentions of war.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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