Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review Borrowed Names

Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters by Jeanine Atkins

Available Now

Standalone Poetry

Bookologist Analysis: See an original way of looking on the world of these great women.

As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled across the prairie in a covered wagon. Her daughter, Rose, thought those stories might make a good book, and the two created the beloved Little House series.

Sara Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, wanted everything to be different for her own daughter, A’Lelia. Together they built a million-dollar beauty empire for women of color. Marie Curie became the first person in history to win two Nobel prizes in science. Inspired by her mother, Irène too became a scientist and Nobel prize winner.

Borrowed Names is the story of these extraordinary mothers and daughters.

Borrowed Names is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

This book was utterly inspiring. We are told so many times as children that being ourselves and not our parents is okay, yet how many times are we reprimanded for not doing as our parents wish. These daughters all go out and decide who they want to be and it ends up being what their mothers were all about. From being farming girls to managers of businesses to award winning scientists.

Rose is just confused at the beginning before she finds her calling at home by being a scribe and editor to her mother and publishing the famous Little House books. A'Lelia learns that the entire world is not about being rich, but also giving back to the people that made you. She ended up being famous for sponsoring many Harlem Renaissance people. Irene finds the courage to be a scientist and continue her mother's work in radioactive materials. She ends up being awarded the Nobel Prize with her husband Frederic Joliot. 

The characters were strong in this book. You learn about people all born in 1867 and later. Where you see literally sea to shining sea from scenes on the seaside Poland to the shipyards of foggy San Francisco. You will learn things you never learned before. These people show you can start anywhere and end anywhere, but your choice is where you end. The world is an open door with this book take it!

“Years move forward, fold back, revealing the daughter she should have been and wasn’t, then was.” (Alone from Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane)

This line showed the demons that haunt us all. Here Rose travels around the world looking for meaning in her life as she just separated from her husband and doesn’t want to go back to her parents quite yet. Years later she finds the meaning she wants from helping her mother write the Little House books.

”How can she stand to pray the same thing over and over? A’Lelia wonders. Why won’t she ask for more?” (At Thirteen from Madame C.J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker)

At a time we start to realize we want more. This A’Lelia’s view point as she can’t stand to watch her mother never want more despite losing hair as a poor laundress in St. Louis. I think Madame C.J. Walker felt that the Lord would provide for them if she worked hard. However, A’Lelia got what she wanted as Madame C.J. Walker started her business in hair.

“How can she listen to her sister … dither through Polish conjugations? What can she teach a girl with no taste for abstractions? It lacks salt. Does a hunger for pianos and pretty shoes prevent Eve from knowing what can’t be held within hands? (Second Summer of the War from Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie) 

This is from Irène who can’t understand her sister’s rejection of a world of equations and invisible atoms. Eve, (who ends up being a journalist and author) just yearns for a world of the solid things such as pianos and society. This shows that sometimes sister don’t get along, especially when one doesn’t have patience for another. Irène follows in her mother and father’s footsteps as a scientist, but continues to keep in contact with Eve despite their differences in the understanding of the invisible.

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