Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

Picking up scraps of fabric from the floor and sewing table as my aunt measured and cut out pattern pieces for my clothes, thrilled me as a child. I would bundle up the useable pieces, meaning any scraps of fabric big enough to make something from, and save them in a big basket. At home, I’d drape the fabric pieces over my dolls, same as I had watched my aunt drape the larger pieces of fabric over me or her dressmaker doll, and fashion a miniature wardrobe. When I achieved the right look and style, I’d thread my needle and stitch the fabrics into dresses and skirts. As a new and very young seamstress, I hadn’t learned how to sew buttons, button holes, and zippers, so I kept the dresses and skirts closed on my dolls with a length of ribbon as a fancy sash.

Years later when I was about twelve, my aunt figured I had observed her long enough and was ready to cut out and sew something for myself. I started with simple skirts and shorts. Over time, I worked up to more complex shirts and dresses. When I can find the time, I still enjoy sewing. But these days, most everything I make is with love for my daughter. Some of you might have heard me shout out on Facebook when she announced, “By the way, Mom, I need a Belle costume from Beauty and the Beast for school in three days.” And…speaking of sewing gowns, today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe. 

Title – Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

Written by  – Deborah Blumenthal

Illustrated by – Laura Freeman

Published by – Little Bee Books – 2017

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – African American fashion designer, determination.

Opening – When she was old enough to thread a needle, Ann Cole Lowe’s momma and grandma taught her how to sew.

Wisps of cloth would fall from their worktables like confetti, and Ann would scoop them up and turn them into flowers as bright as roses in the garden.

Ann’s family came from Alabama. Her great-grandma had been a slave, so her family knew about working hard just to get by.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers.

Why do I like this book? On a personal note, I enjoyed reading a book about a designer who started her fashion career stitching scraps of fabrics she gathered in her mother’s sewing room–same as I enjoyed doing when I was a child. (However, my young seamstress days took me down a different path.) Ann Cole Lowe was an African American fashion designer who, because of her color, had to study alone in a separate classroom. Despite the unfairness, she pushed forward and continued to design one of a kind gowns, eventually earning enough money to open her own Manhattan salon where she was commissioned to sew a very special wedding gown. When wedding bells rang, it was for the future first lady of the United States, Jacqueline Bouvier Kenedy. The story inspires and shows, that with determination, anything is possible.

Want to learn a little more about Ann Cole Lowe? Click HERE.

Learn more about Deborah Blumenthal HERE.

Learn more about Laura Freeman HERE.

PPBF Looks at Star Stuff

When you were a child, did you discover anything that made you curious? And when a grownup gave you an explanation, did their answer send you searching for more answers to your new questions? This is what happened to Carl Sagan when, as a child, he wondered what the stars were. Today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I want to share a wonderful book about one boy’s curiosity and how furthering his knowledge brought him to his life’s passion and career.

Title – Star Stuff – Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos – view on Amazon here.

Written and Illustrated by – Stephanie Roth Sisson

Published by – Roaring Book Press -2014

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/theme  curiosity – astronomy

Opening – In the Milky Way galaxy… In a neighborhood of stars… On the third planet from our sun… In a big city… In a small apartment… Lived a boy named Carl.

Jacket copy  – Once a young boy looked up at the sky and wondered about stars. He wanted to know where they come from and what they are made of. So he went to the library and read books about space and the solar system. He imagined going to far away planets and learning what they are like. And when he grew up he made it his life’s work to tell everyone all the wonderful things he had learned about star stuff. This the story of Carl Sagan, the beloved scientist who taught the world to marvel at the mysteries of the cosmos and continues to inspire generations of dreamers and stargazers.

Amazon Review – For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, “What are they?” comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan.

When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space. This book introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across America to a new generation of dreamers and star gazers.

Why do I like this book? Having a dad who was an astrophysicist, discussions of space travel, stars, and planets was a typical and favorite topic of discussion at the dinner table. When Carl Sagan Broadcast his TV show in 1980, The Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, my family gathered in the living room each week to watch the entire series. And now this picture book is available to inspire a new generation of star gazers and it is sure to whet their appetites about our marvelous galaxy. Or perhaps a young reader will follow the great example of Carl Sagan and take something that interests them, learn as much as they can on the subject, and see where their dream takes them.

Author – Visit the author’s blog here.

Learn more about Carl Sagan here. This website includes the beautiful music from the TV Program he presented in 1980.