Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Barbara Cooney
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Penguin, 1996   ISBN: 978-0140555837

From the very beginning little Eleanor Roosevelt did not fit in. Unlike her pretty mother and handsome mother, Eleanor was plain and rather unattractive. Unfortunately there were those in her life who were insensitive enough to say this in her hearing and to therefore undermine her confidence more than it already was. The bright light in Eleanor’s otherwise very drab and lonely life was her father whom she loved with great devotion and loyalty despite the fact that he was not consistent in his parenting. Eleanor knew that he tried and she knew that he loved her. For her this was enough. It was his love which helped sustain her for entire life, even after her father died when she was only nine years old.

The combination of Eleanor’s unhappy childhood, and her gentle and sensitive personality was to turn her into a giving and generous person as she grew up; always willing to help others and to give selflessly. She was aware very early on that the world was full of people less fortunate than herself and it would become her life’s work to help these people in every way that she could.

Barbara Cooney beautifully shares the life of one of America’s greatest women with her readers, her signature art work complementing Eleanor’s story and bringing both her unhappy and later her fulfilled years into sharp focus. It is a very fitting tribute to an exceptional woman.

This book has won numerous awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and the Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.