The more I learn about Betty White, the more I am amazed at what she has done. I knew her as an actress and then an animal’s rights activist. I knew she was married. Over the years I would learn she was an icon and not just because she did a Snickers commercial. Then That’s Betty!: The Story of Betty White comes along and Gregory Bonsignore just kept the info coming. She was a producer before women were producers. Her television history started at the beginning of television and would allow her to have one of the longest careers in television. And the “hits” kept coming for her and in the book.
In Bonsignore picture book (due late November/early December 2021) a boy and his class are instructed to do an individual school project about a “trailblazing woman.” Everyone from his teacher to one of his dads tell him he might want to choose someone more traditional when he picks Betty White. Of course, the point is many people told White to be “more traditional” in her actions and choices over the years. But neither she or our narrator listen. The plot thickens when our young hero is in the library, and he meets a woman who is an expert on Betty White. We the reader know the joke, but our friend is clueless until after he does his presentation about who our said expert is. The way Bonsignore presents the facts is the two of them talking, telling stories and information that they know.
It is Jennifer M. Potter’s illustrations that help give us clues to the identity of the mystery woman and the life of White. The colors are bright, not overwhelming but fresh and popping. The details are both simple and crowded. This is due to how each scene is presented (the library has shelves, books, and tables, while a story about White on her show having a black dancer highlighted focuses on the dancer and does not distract from the statement being made).
The publisher description has the book set for ages 4 to 8. I would say, it could be slightly older as well, but the picture book format, however, might turn off that older reader. And to be honest, I do not know too many four-year-olds willing to sit long enough to have a story read to them with little action and about a person the odds are they do not know of (as I really hope they do not know most of her works!)