Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Josephine - words by Patricia Hruby Powell, pictures by Christian Robinson

What inspired me to write Josephine?

Well, I’m a dancer. And…back in 2005, I was working  at The Urbana Free Library in the children’s department as a librarian and there was a regular group of unfocused preteen girls running pretty wild. I thought Josephine with all her pizzazz and confidence and focus, could be a wonderful role model.

And after reading Josephine I hope readers will be inspired to dream. And to do whatever they dream of doing.

Awards and Honors

Robert F. Sibert 2015 Honor Book

Coretta Scott King 2015 Illustrator Honor

Josephine with bow and arrows: "Seeing everybody looking at me electrified me."

Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Honor 2014

Parents’ Choice Gold Award for Poetry 2014

International Bologna/Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor 2014

Junior Library Guild Selection 2014

Huffington Post Best Picture Book of the Year 2014 – Biography (artist)

Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Children’s Books of the Year List for 2014


Consider “Liking” Josephine on Facebook.

Josephine Curriculum Guide

Picture Book Bibliography – Black History Curriculum Guide

Picture Book Biography Bibliography – Poetry


Children’s Books: Now Introducing the Sensational Josephine BakerWall Street Journal, 1/10/2014

“…jazzy syncopated free verse…poetic voice…”Los Angeles Times 1/8/14

“Baker’s entire life spreads out in this tapestry of words.”Publishers Weekly 11/1/13, Starred Review Starred Review

“An extraordinary dancer and woman is here celebrated with style and empathy.”Kirkus Reviews 11/1/13, Starred Review Starred Review

“Captivating… a fun, enriching, and holistic reading experience.”School Library Journal 3/2014, Starred Review Starred Review

“Powell and Robinson create a biography of a woman whose life and art are inseparable.”Shelf Awareness for Readers 1/17/2014, Starred Review Starred Review

Horn Book May/June 2014, Starred Review Starred Review

Recorded Books School Library Journal May 2014, Starred Review Starred Review

“staccato phrases move like music”Shelf Awareness

“Factual and yet poetic… defies convention as boldly as its subject did.”— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books “Recommended” January 2014

“Honors the colorful exuberance of both the Jazz era and Baker’s life.”—Booklist 2/2014patricia-dancing

Josephine: A children’s book as complex, vibrant, and endearing as Josephine Baker herself.Cool Mom Picks

“Powell writes with great reverence and a vigor”—Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things

“…a gripping tale.”Denver Post 1/8/14

“I love how (the book) JOSEPHINE is, like the real Josephine, a rare creature.”Richie’s Picks

“homeschooling: I could do studies off of [Josephine] for a couple of weeks easily.”Stanley & Katrina

“an extraordinary tribute to an American legend.”BookPage

“Powell’s text leaps of the page with energy and playfulness.”Busy Librarian

“a stunning picture book that will entice young and old alike.”—Suzanne Morris on Kid Lit Reviews

“It’s written…as though Baker herself was singing the story.”Buck’s County Courier Times

“…my two favorite books” –Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things


ALA Notable Children’s Books for “All Ages”

JosephieNPR Best Books of the Year 2014

Best Picture Books of 2014 | Adventures in Learning | PBS Parents

New York Public Library Best Children’s Books 2014

Best Books – Children’s Wall Street Journal

Horn Book Fanfare Best of 2014

Book Page Best Children’s Books of 2014

GoodReads Choice Awards 2014 Picture Book Finalist

School Library Journal List of Best Books of 2014 – Nonfiction

Blue Ribbon Books 2014 – Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

Chicago Public Library – Best Books for Older Readers (older kids) 2014

100 Magnificent Children’s Books 2014

Nerdy Book Club Nonfiction 2014

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature’s Best Multicultural Books of 2014

BuzzFeed Best Books 2014

Illinois news

BCCB lists of gift ideas

Man playing a tubaPicture Book Tributes to Black Women

“This is how you do a great biography, my friends.” Favorite 2014 Picture Books…So Far—Julie Danielson

25 Contemporary Picture Books to Help Parents, Teachers, and Kids Talk About Diversity—BuzzFeed

45 Books to teach Children About Black History–The Culture

Amazon Editor’s Choice Best Book of the Month for Readers 6-8 January 2014

Daily Candy Product of the Month February 2014

SLJ Pick of the Day February 26, 2014

Follett School Solutions Title EZ subscription program Starred ReviewStarred Review May 2014

National Education Association (NEA) Read Across America Calendar January 2015

ABC Best Books for Children Catalog 2014

A White Raven 2014 book – recommended by White Ravens Catalogue of the International Youth Library (housed in Germany).

CCBC Choices 2015, the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center — Biography

The Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California Presents 2014 Distinguished Books

2016-2017 William Allen White Children’s Book Award’s Master List – Kansas State Book Award

New York City Reads 365 for 2016 – Grade 5

Reading Rocket Holiday Gift Book Guide 2015

Illinois Reads 2016

Chicago’s Battle of the Books – 4th-6th grades

California Reads Eureka Silver Honor 2016

100 Best Children’s Books for Black History Month

Ireland’s Bold Girls campaign (Reading Guide p. 68)

17 Books for Women’s History Month

Fundamental Children’s Books – 30 Picture Books About World Changing Women

JosephineInterviews and Guest Blogs

“It’s a visionary picture book.”Nonfiction Nook

What Would Josephine Do?–Patricia’s guest blog on Nerdy Book Club

Interview with Patricia about Josephine on Live & Local with Kevin Kelly NPR station WILL 90.9 FM–2/10/14 from counter 29:00 to 60:00

“Read the kind of books you want to write.”–Interview with Colby Sharp

Josephine is already collecting a jewel box of starred reviews”—Kate Hannigan

Michelle Markel’s Cat and the Fiddle interview with Patricia

A dancer writes about a dancer—The News-Gazette

Who was your idol?Riffle Backstory

for Women’s History Month —Children’s Book Review Blog

Josephine rocks and so does her authorI.N.K.

This was a dream projectCM Cloud

photos of Josephine Baker paired with Christian Robinson’s artwork from the book—This Picture Book Life

A book for diverse readers and all ages

Champaign’s WCIA Channel 3 TV

WILL Radio interview to celebrate NPR Best Books

Pivot – University of Illinois Dance Department Newsletter

Picture Book Builders – The Dazzling Amazing 104 Page Picture Book

Champaign-Urbana News Gazette Getting Personal

Guest blog for Angie Karcher’s Rhypibomo – Rhythm in Writing – Are you naturally musical?

A Word Edgewise recommended middle grade books in verse


“Powell’s slam-bam free verse has a Jazz Age-evoking musicality”Kirkus Review

See Christian Robinson’s “exploration” illustrations of covers for Josephine.—7 Impossible Things

Who would dare search Josephine Baker to the skin?Champaign Urbana News Gazette 1/26/14

Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Acceptance Speech


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Buy Josephine directly from Chronicle.

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Activity Sheets for Josephine

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