Reviews for Borrowed Names : Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and their Daughters

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
*Starred Review* In 1867, three women who achieved great success were born: writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker, and scientist Marie Curie. All three had complicated relationships with their daughters, relationships that Atkins explores in this unusual volume of poetry. Each section follows one daughter from young childhood to adulthood, sketching out the facts of her life, but creating impressions of the emotional lives beyond the facts. Rose Wilder Lane grows up in rural poverty. Constricted by her mother's expectations, she leaves the Wilder farm to work, marry, and travel, but returns and helps to shape her mother's books. As a child, A'Lelia Walker watches her mother wash clothes for a meager living, but after her mother's hair products make them wealthy, A'Lelia grows up to become a patron of the Harlem Renaissance. Curie's elder daughter, Irène, knows early on that her mother's focus is on her work with radium. As an adult, Irène continues that work, earning her own Nobel Prize. In vivid scenes written with keen insight and subtle imagery, the poems offer a strong sense of each daughter's personality as well as the tensions and ties they shared with their notable mothers. Writing with understated drama and quiet power, Atkins enables readers to understand these six women and their mother-daughter relationships in a nuanced and memorable way. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
These three renowned mothers were born in 1867. Each had a child with whom she had a rocky early relationship that blossomed into mutual love and respect. The parallels remain implicit in these poetically realized lives; the thirty vignettes concerning each mother-daughter pair offer just a few telling facts, beautifully phrased and skillfully arranged. Portrait photos, introductions, and afterwords round out the stories. Timeline. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
Three renowned mothers were born in 1867. Each had a child with whom she had a rocky early relationship that blossomed into mutual love and respect; a daughter who would carry on her work. The hardscrabble Missouri farmer; the field hand who took in laundry to escape the cotton plantation; the Polish-born researcher overshadowed by her French husband -- each began adulthood with minimal rewards for formidable labor that eventually led to extraordinary accomplishments. The parallels remain implicit in these poetically realized lives; the thirty vignettes concerning each mother-daughter pair offer just a few telling facts, beautifully phrased and skillfully arranged to evoke the most significant events and emotional trajectories of entire lives. Using the daughters' points of view dramatizes their consonances and difficulties with their mothers -- Rose Wilder Lane persuading Laura to fictionalize her story ("Words are like mirrors: / A reflection is never the real face"); Irene Joliot-Curie's passion to comprehend "the laws of radiance, reflection, refraction... / the one world her mother loves"; A'Lelia Walker mourning the entrepreneur who made her wealthy ("No voice lingers like the one she longs to hear / slow as the Mississippi River sloshing grief / on its banks"). Portrait photos, introductions, and afterwords round out the stories; there's a timeline and a good bibliography, including works by some of the subjects, for those inspired to learn more -- as many will be. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 February #2
The three women in the subtitle were all born in 1867, and Atkins brings them together in this unusual volume. Each of the three sections has a prose introduction, and the body of each chronicles the life and work, in restrained free verse, of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker and Marie Curie, respectively. The author binds each woman to her daughter in verse as in life and work: Rose Wilder Lane, A'Lelia Perry Bundles and Irène Joliot-Curie. The dark and tangled currents between mothers and daughters as they worked together, pulled apart and reconnected in work strike a somber tone. The work is complex and mighty: Wilder's books, Walker's pomades and creams, Curie's two Nobel prizes (and Irène's one). Fine as the concept is, the execution does not quite succeed at illuminating the passion that drove each of these dyads, but it is certainly an interesting way of beginning to look for the spark. (timeline, selected bibliography) (Collective biography/poetry. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 February

Gr 7 Up--The year 1867 saw the birth of three remarkable women who, along with their daughters, made their marks on society and changed the world. Their lives and those of their daughters are captured within three segments that read like novellas. Atkins's use of narrative poetry is perfectly suited to the recollection of moments thoroughly researched from sources listed in the bibliography, as well as those from the author's imagination. The fundamentals captured here most emphatically are: both generations' need to be independent, to strike out on their own, coupled with the wish for one another's love and support, if not possible due to separation, then through bonds surpassing any possible physical boundaries. There is nothing false in the depictions of these women: their accomplishments, their struggles, joys and heartaches, and most of all their relationships. This book, powerful when read independently, would also make for a great readers' theater project for teens. The images created bring powerful emotions to the surface, felt by the women profiled here and by those who read this gem that belongs in any literary cedar chest, as well as in every collection.--Tracy Weiskind, Chicago Public Library

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VOYA Reviews 2010 August
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, and Marie Curie were all born in 1867. All three made names for themselves when it was truly still a man's world. All three also had daughters who were heavily involved with their mothers' careers. Laura and Rose Wilder were not close while Rose grew up, but they ended up working together on the famous Little House books, working so closely, in fact, that who wrote what can be called into question. Madam C. J. and A'Lelia Walker lived in poverty, until Madam C. J. created hair care products and made a fortune. A'Lelia enjoyed the fruits of her mother's success and tried, unsuccessfully, to get her mother to slow down and enjoy them herself. Irene Curie struggled to get close to her distant, workaholic mother by being an exceptional student and scientist. Sadly, Irene followed in her mother's footsteps, being an indifferent parent to her own children while earning her own Nobel Prize Atkins conjures up rich images with her spare poems and clearly shows readers the Wilders' simple home, Madam Walker's giant factory, and the Curies' garage laboratory. She carefully reveals Rose's wanderlust, A'Lelia's joy at being able to buy nice clothes, and Irene's tunnel vision as she seeks her mother's approval. The end matter includes a timeline placing the women in context with history and with each other, as well as a selected bibliography. Photos of all the women are included, showing them at the height of their fame. This enjoyable biographical/historical book should be accessible even to reluctant readers.--Geri Diorio Photos. Biblio. Chronology. 4Q 2P M Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.