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As it turns out, Coco Chanel is a terrific subject for a picture-book biography. A poor, skinny orphan, she brightened her colourless convent childhood by sewing dresses for her dolls. She also dreamed big dreams. Once she was on her own, she turned her tailoring talent into a career as a dress designer. Coco, who was sticklike rather than shapely, designed dresses for figures like hers. Soon, her clothes were being snapped up, and thanks to her enigmatic personality and sense of style, she became a celebrity. Matthews' writing style is right on the mark, as breezy and appealing as Coco herself. Wisely, the author frontloads the book with stories of Coco's disadvantaged youth, which have immediate pull for readers. It's too bad that the pictures don't measure up to the writing. Although often amusing, and occasionally moving, they never capture Coco's elegance. Moreover, all the characters have snoutlike noses that are seriously distracting. Despite that, this rags-to-much-nicer-rags story is well worth reading. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Elizabeth Matthews makes her chic picture-book debut with this lively look at a legendary woman. Says the author-illustrator, "When I look in my closet, it's easy to appreciate what Coco Chanel accomplished for herself, for women, for fashion, and, of course, for little black dresses everywhere." A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Elizabeth Matthews lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
Matthews makes her children's book debut with panache with this portrait of the famously avant-garde Coco Chanel. --Publishers Weekly (starred review)