Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker

Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator:  Nneka Bennett 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2003   ISBN: 978-0763618346

Sarah was born in the south, the daughter of sharecroppers. Her parents had been slaves but they were freed in 1865, just two years before Sarah was born. Though they were free, the Breedlove’s had to work very hard for very little return. Their former master owned the land that they worked and his demands on the resources of the family kept them poor.

When she was only seven Sarah and her siblings were orphaned. Hard times lay ahead with the family moving from their home and breaking up to go in different directions. By the time she was twenty Sarah had already been widowed and she had a small daughter to take care of. She took in laundry to support herself and her child and admired the strong and lovely black women whom she saw speaking in the church and at meetings. Seeing those women made Sarah decide that she too could do more with her life and she began to make homemade beauty products for black women like herself. Sarah’s products were good and soon her business began to grow and her career took off.

Sarah not only showed generations of girls what a woman could do with her life but she also gave the women who worked for her a feeling of purpose, confidence and self worth. She helped them become self sufficient and proud of who they were and she gave back to the community in many ways.

Splendidly written with pathos and energy Kathryn Lasky beautifully conveys what Sarah was like. Sarah’s own words are frequently used in the text and readers will find that this picture book biography is both interesting and inspiring.