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Gr. 6-9. As in Fleming's Ben Franklin's Almanac: Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman's Life 0 (2003), which was a 2004 Booklist 0 Top 10 Biography, this takes a pastiche approach to humanizing a legendary life. Through anecdotes and archival photos drawn from an assortment of sources, Fleming invites readers into a camaraderie with the timid, neglected little girl who grew up to become the woman many nicknamed "copresident," and whose flouting of accepted gender roles earned her admiration and ridicule in equal measure. The details of Roosevelt's life are certainly riveting; however, Fleming's jigsaw-puzzle approach is probably best suited for use in conjunction with more traditional narratives, such as Russell Freedman's Newbery Honor Book Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery 0 (1993). In terms of Roosevelt's sexuality, for instance, the frank details about Roosevelt's bonds with known lesbians appear 15 pages before 0 a segment that asks "Was She Or Wasn't She?" (Answer: who knows?)--a structural choice that seems to encourage assumptions rather than heading them off. That said, a broad audience, including many adults, will be intrigued by the volume's photo-album immediacy. Those eager to gain perspectives from other biographers may be frustrated by a list of related books primarily geared to younger children, although multimedia resources and exhaustive source notes offer plenty of opportunities to extend this intimate, unvarnished, and ultimately deeply moving portrait. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2005 Booklist
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In this standout biography, Fleming employs the scrapbook style she debuted in Benjamin Franklin's Almanac for another American icon, Eleanor Roosevelt, the "first lady of the world," in the words of former president Truman. Short chapters arranged into a pastiche of narratives and deftly supported by photographs, newspaper articles, letters and humorous cartoons explore how this sad "Little Nell," as her father called her, emerged from an unhappy albeit privileged childhood to become an indefatigable champion of the poor and powerless. So controversial that she inspired "one of the largest FBI files in American history" (3,271 pages), Eleanor was also beloved by thousands of Americans, who wrote to her seeking advice or solace. Fleming documents many of the ways Eleanor herself evolved, such as how her prejudiced views on Jews changed over time, and some of the ways in which she remained faithful to herself even if it brought her pain. Eleanor's intellect attracted her charming and ambitious cousin Franklin, and their divergent approaches to life would divide them as a couple but also strengthen them as political partners. Fleming relies on the prolific words of Eleanor herself, family members, friends and observers to enhance this multi-faceted life story. The attractive design capitallizes on these various perspectives, often highlighted in different type treatments; yet the overall appearance is one of cohesion. With this approach, Fleming allows readers to draw their own conclusions; they will come away with an understanding of a woman who shaped her times and left a lasting imprint on the future. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Gr 4-8-This presentation does for the longest-serving First Lady what Russell Freedman's Lincoln: A Photobiography (Clarion, 1987) did for an earlier inhabitant of the White House. While the arrangement is chronological from Roosevelt's parents' marriage to her own death, the narrative is not linear per se. Rather, each of the seven chapters leads readers through the subject's busy life with short sections of text filled with well-documented first-person accounts and direct quotes. Much of the story is told within the meaty sidebars covering supporting perspectives, enlightening details, and amusing anecdotes. Fleming is honest, respectful, and astute throughout, addressing both successes and controversies with balance (not to mention with candor, as when she approaches the issue of Eleanor's sexuality with the statement "Was She or Wasn't She?"). Not a spread goes by without incredible archival photographs or reproductions, newspaper and magazine clippings, handwritten letters, and diary entries. Many of them have never been published in a book for young people, and they all provide relevant and fascinating insight. The title suggests an intimacy between reader and subject, which is strengthened by a design suggesting a family album. Pages are jam-packed with information in varying fonts and formats, yet still manage to remain clearly and logically laid out. Basic research tools include a time line, family tree, and extensive source notes. Enjoyably educational, Our Eleanor will be a core title in all collections for years to come.-Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.