Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt (Big Words)

by Doreen Rappaport (Author) Gary Kelley (Illustrator)

Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt (Big Words)
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Big Words
A stunning portrait of beloved first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, by the award-winning author of the Big Words series.

Eleanor Roosevelt was raised in a privileged but stern Victorian household, with an affectionate but mostly absent father and a critical mother who made fun of her daughter's looks. Alone and lonely for much of her childhood, Eleanor found solace in books and in the life of her lively and independent mind. Her intellectual gifts and compassionate heart won her the admiration of many friends -- and the love of her future husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While other young women of her class were spending time at dances and parties, Eleanor devoted her energies to teaching children in New York City's poorest neighborhoods. Later, she became the most socially and politically active -- and controversial -- First Lady America had ever seen. Ambassador, activist, and champion of civil rights, Eleanor Roosevelt changed the soul of America forever.

In her eloquent prose, Doreen Rappaport captures the essence of Eleanor's character and the deep significance of her legacy. With beautiful paintings by Gary Kelley and selections from Eleanor's own writings, Eleanor's Big Words is an extraordinary tribute to an extraordinary American.

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School Library Journal

Starred Review
Gr 3-8--Once again Rappaport celebrates a noble, heroic life in powerful, succinct prose, with prominent, well-chosen, and judiciously placed quotes that both instruct and inspire. From her lonely childhood to her transformative education in Europe and marriage to Franklin Roosevelt, the subject is portrayed as a serious, intelligent, hardworking humanitarian. Despite the picture-book format, students get enough background and information to appreciate the woman's outstanding qualities and contributions as well as enough details for reports. As in "Martin's Big Words" (2001) and "Abe's Honest Words" (2008, both Hyperion), each spread features the winning combination of the author's text, the subject's quotes, and evocative artwork. Personal notes from the author and illustrator are appended. The evocative pictures tell the story of both the subject and her country. Kelley's subtle use of contrast, such as Roosevelt's posh townhouse juxtaposed against a poorly lit tenement or Marian Anderson, clad in black, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, is quite powerful. Celebrate women in history and in politics with this picture-book life."Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools" Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
Rappaport's spare text and Kelley's handsome paintings, evocative of WPA murals, reclaim the legendary first lady's story for the younger set, revealing the person behind the icon. Writing in clipped, one-or-two-sentence paragraphs that have the feel of blank verse, Rappaport is vivid and frank about Eleanor's unhappy childhood and overbearing mother-in-law (Sara told Eleanor what clothes to buy and what food to serve.... She even chose their furniture), although she demurs when it comes to the Roosevelts' own marital problems. Each spread is anchored by a quote from Eleanor herself, set in large type to convey her voice, growing sense of confidence and moral conviction (the opening endpapers read, Do something every day that scares you, setting a powerful tone from the outset). Kelley's muted palette conveys the gravity of the times and provides a striking visual counterpoint to his dramatic, strongly geometric compositions. Even if readers have little sense of history, they will close the book understanding that it was America's great fortune to have Eleanor's life coincide with some of its darkest hours. Ages 58. "(Feb.)" Copyright 2009 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Review quotes

Rappaport's picture book-biography is now a familiar one-a band of text per spread, large-type quotations from the subject, arresting artwork-but it continues to be successful. With so many young eyes now directed on a new First Lady, this look at Eleanor Roosevelt, who blazed a path for her successors to set their own public agendas, is particularly timely. Rappaport portrays Eleanor as a child who grew up in families boasting more privilege than affection, as a woman who married an appreciative husband (no mention of forthcoming marital drama, only distance) and thereby acquired a censorious mother-in-law, and as a First Lady who dedicated herself to causes of her own choosing, as well as diplomatic missions requested by husband FDR, and who continued her life of service after his death. The quotations chosen are particularly apt, revealing, as the subtitle suggests, Eleanor's growing confidence and candor over the years. The white-gowned young woman boating with her husband suitor warbles, "I am so happy in your love, dearest, that all the world has changed for me"; ten spreads later, a much steelier Eleanor opines, "Do what you feel in your heart to right-for you'll be criticized anyway." Kelley supplies more literal, softer-edged scenes for this title than the Bryan Collier and Kadir Nelson artwork in previous volumes (Martin's Big Words, BCCB 1/02; Abe's Honest Words, BCCB 10/08), but his illustrations retain something of the monumentality and all of the dignity that mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln works. Again, Rappaport furnishes useful end matter as well, including a timeline, a list of research sources, and print and online suggestions for young readers. This will serve as an exceptional step-up to Russell Freedman's Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (BCCB 10/93). BCCB"
Doreen Rappaport
Doreen Rappaport has written numerous award-winning books for children, including Freedom Ship and The School Is Not White (both illustrated by Curtis James); Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book illustrated by Bryan Collier; and John's Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon, also illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Bryan Collier's first book, Uptown, published in 2000, received a Coretta Scott King (CSK) Illustrator Award, as well as an Ezra Jack Keats Award. The same year, Freedom River, which he illustrated, received a CSK Illustrator Honor Award. He is the illustrator of Martin's Big Words, for which he received his first Caldecott Honor Award and a CSK Honor Award. He received his second Caldecott Honor Award in 2006, as well as another CSK Award for Rosa, written by Nikki Giovanni. He is also a New York Times bestseller with Barack Obama, written by Nikki Grimes, which reached the #1 spot in picture books during its 20 weeks on the list and received a 2009 NAACP Image Award for Best Children's Book, and has illustrated many other acclaimed, award-winning titles.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
February 20, 2009
Big Words
BISAC categories
JNF007000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | General
Library of Congress categories
United States
Roosevelt, Eleanor
Politics and government
Presidents' spouses
Social reformers
Political activists
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2011 - 2012
Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award
Nominee 2011 - 2012

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