It is “can’t write 250 words for both books, but even if I could they should be together” review time. Both books are for older children up to adults. There is not a lot of traditional adventure or action, but that should not take away from the fact these are strong stories that can be used in the classroom or at home readings. They can be used to women’s history month (though only Rosie has a past, even if she is not officially a “real” person) and black history month (the dancer of Dancing in the Wings is of color).
Rosie the Riveter: The Legacy of an American Icon is almost a poem/song about Rosie the Riveter who was “born full grown in 1942.” The poetic and romantic images and text of Sarah Dvojack shows the inspiration of the woman on the poster that told women We Can Do It! The illustrations are simple, but not simplistic, and filled with the details to get the subject across. The end includes several pages on the history behind the image, idea, about other posters/campaigns of the time, and even the movie. It is not a biography in the traditional sense, as Rosie herself was only based on the women of the time (even if a few people can claim to be the inspiration), but a combination biography and story of an era in American and women history.
Dancing in the Wings is a hard book to explain. At first, I thought it was a biography of Debbie Allen. And while it might be based on some experiences (I never did see if it was an actual memoir or based on fact, but there is a photograph of her and I am assuming a daughter, so perhaps it was based on her instead of Allen) it could be. It is a story of a young girl trying to stand out in dance and not just because she is the tallest in her class or wearing a yellow suit. This is a book about family, siblings, friendship, and strength. This is a book about trying and being your best. The illustrations of Kadir Nelson capture the feeling and tone of the text that tells a good story. There were a few “holes” in the text for me personally, but it will be big hit with dancers, lovers of good stories and children of all ages (therefore, of course, adults who are children at heart). Due to the length the text could be a bit long for a traditional picture book listener/reader but could work as a few pages a night read or for the older crowd.
In conclusion, this review does not do either book justice. So please, find them and see for yourself!