Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up the StageFeatured
Florence was a remarkable child,
and that's a fact.
Pint-sized dynamo "Baby Florence" Mills was singing and dancing just about as soon as she could talk and walk. She warbled a tune while her mama did laundry. Everywhere Flo went, she strutted through the streets of Washington, D.C. with a high-steppin' cakewalk. Flo's mama and daddy knew they had a budding entertainer in the family, so they entered Florence in a talent contest.
Baby Flo went on to become an international superstar during the Harlem Renaissance-but first she had to overcome a case of stage fright and discover that winning wasn't everything. Here is the spirited story of that spunky young girl learning to chase her dreams with confidence. A sensation in her time, Baby Flo is back, dancing and singing her way into hearts and history.
I admit, although I am a New Yorker born and bred, I did not know the story of Florence Mills, star of the Harlem Renaissance -- and I wonder why her story is not more well known. It should be more widely known. SHE should be more widely known, and this book is admirable for that alone -- for telling the story of a performer from a time when African American artists, musicians, singers and actors were still all too often on the sidelines of mainstream culture. The author's note provides further insight into the life of Florence Mills, something I welcomed as I had fallen in love with the child star in the previous pages, and was longing to know more.
Yet children don't care how worthy a book is if it is not also beautiful and engaging. BABY FLO is both. The watercolor illustrations have a playful looseness that feels like a small child dancing for the sheer love of it. The text is read-aloud friendly, too dense for a beginning reader to sound out alone, but happily an older, more confident reader would not find this book childish.
This would be an outstanding addition to any bookshelf, especially perhaps a classroom looking to improve the cultural diversity of its offerings. Yet that is a bonus, because first and foremost, this was a good story, well told.
Perfect classroom book