Cover image for Vision of beauty : the story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
Vision of beauty : the story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
Lasky, Kathryn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
A biography of Sarah Breedlove Walker who, though born in poverty, pioneered in hair and beauty care products for black women, and became a great financial success.
Reading Level:
870 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.3 1.0 42456.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.3 3 Quiz: 22061 Guided reading level: P.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9970.5.C672 W3547 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
HD9970.5.C672 W3547 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HD9970.5.C672 W3547 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

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An inspiring picture-book biography of a woman who succeeded on her own terms.

Born December 23, 1867, Sarah Breedlove Walker was the youngest and first free-born child of Minerva and Owen Breedlove of Delta, Louisiana. As sharecroppers, their lives were hard, but slavery had ended, and the Breedlove family was free. And if you were free, you could dream.

VISION OF BEAUTY depicts Sarah Breedlove Walker's rise from a bleak world of poverty and discrimination to unprecedented success as an influential businesswoman and philanthropist. Orphaned at age seven, married and widowed by twenty, Sarah was a young mother struggling as a laundress when she began to lose her hair. Through tenacity and faith, she discovered her own cure, founding the phenomenally successful Mme. C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Representing a woman's ability to achieve economic independence, Madam Walker offered a vision of freedom and dignity for her people, and became a powerful role model for women and girls of all races and classes.

The story of a woman with the courage to dream--and the determination to build a better life for herself and her race.

Author Notes

Kathryn Lasky was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 24, 1944, and knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she was ten. She majored in English in college and after graduation wrote for various magazines and taught. Her first book, I Have Four Names for My Grandfather, was published while she was teaching.

She has written more than seventy books for children and young adults on everything from historical fiction to picture books and nonfiction books including the Dear America books and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. Many of her books are illustrated with photographs by her husband, Christopher Knight. She has received many awards for her titles including Sugaring Time which was a Newberry Honor Book; The Night Journey which won the National Jewish Book Award for Children; Pageant which was an ALA Notable Children's book; and Beyond the Burning Time which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She has also received the Washington Post's Children's Book Guild Award for her contribution to children's nonfiction. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. This excellent biography tells the story of Madame C. J. Walker, a turn-of-the-century African American entrepreneur. Walker was born in 1867 to former slaves, but was orphaned at an early age. Her rise to owning her own business--at a time when African Americans were denied many basic freedoms and women, white and black, were unable to vote or own property--is truly inspirational. Lasky's engaging account moves smoothly through events in Walker's life, explaining why she became interested in hair care products, how she established her business, and how she used her wealth and success to help empower other African American women. The illustrations, by Nneka Bennett, are attractive and rich in historical detail, and they work well with the text to gently show the hardships faced by Walker and other African Americans of her time. Walker's feminism and work for civil rights are described in terms that will make sense to young readers. An epilogue and notes by both the author and the illustrator are included, the latter explaining Bennett's personal connection to the story. Fascinating and useful. --Marta Segal

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lasky (A Brilliant Streak: The Making of Mark Twain; Science Fair Bunnies, reviewed above) chronicles the life of Sarah Breedlove Walker, who was born in 1870 in Louisiana to former slaves and became the richest African-American woman of her times and a major philanthropist. Her childhood was marked by dire hardships: by seven she was an orphan and working full-time as a laundress; by 20 she was a widow and a mother, beginning to go bald from years of poor nutrition and hard labor. In her 30s, she experimented with natural ingredients and chemicals and created a formula to restore the health of both hair and scalp. Beginning with door-to-door demonstrations in "colored" women's kitchens, she built her business into the Mme. C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, by 1912 "one of the biggest companies in America." Lasky is better at conveying the young Sarah's suffering than she is at suggesting the texture of Walker's adult life, but she does a good job explaining the sociocultural factors affecting African-American women's attitudes toward hair. Bennett's (Gettin' Through Thursday; Cherish Me) soft-focus pencil and watercolor pictures suggest Walker's personality, although they tend to be short on action. Ironically, the illustrator's concluding note, in which she speaks as a black woman about her own attitudes toward beauty, may be for many readers the most affecting passages here. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Through a readable text and wonderful illustrations, Lasky brings to life one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in the United States. The author's research is extremely thorough, including interviews with her subject's great-great granddaughter. The narrative traces Breedlove's girlhood as the first free-born child of former slaves in Louisiana to her hard life as a laundress and single mother in St. Louis. The text explains that her interest in natural plants and oils to treat the hair of "colored" women stemmed from her own experience with damaged hair. Working with formulas in her own small laboratory, Breedlove began producing hair products. After her marriage to Charles Walker, she was able to open a factory in Pittsburgh. To sell her products, she enlisted black women of all ages to market them door to door. By 1912, the Mme. C. J. Walker Company was one of the largest companies in America. Lasky emphasizes the contributions of Walker and the company to the well being of black women and the community. Bennett's full-page watercolors give faces to the characters without overwhelming the text. Their pacing and placement help move the story along. This impressive picture book will delight young readers as it gives a sense of this remarkable woman and the times in which she lived.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.