Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, March 30, 2012

Her Legacy Lives On

This week boxes of Girl Scout cookies were delivered to my library media center by my students.  I can not remember a time when I have not either been selling or buying Girl Scout cookies.  When I was growing up it was not a question of whether you would join Girl Scouts but when; we were all in scouting.

My troop leaders, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Archer, were dynamos.  Growing up in the 1960s there was a plethora of things girls were expected to know but our leaders took us above and beyond those skills; putting us out in the woods to survive armed with knowledge.    I credit these two fine women and Girl Scouting with my ability to be resilient in the face of insurmountable odds.  In a word...gumption.

Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-true Story of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure (Scholastic Press) by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, is more than a picture book biography. Illuminating the life of a woman responsible for directing the course of girl's and young women's visions, hopes, for decades, it offers readers insights into the power of one. 

One of my personal favorite quotes by Thomas Carlyle is:

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities:  It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. 

Whether she knew it or not, Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low lived this quote.

Coming from a family known for forging new ground, Daisy longed for the thrill of going her own way unlike the other prim and proper girls of her day.  Even though an ear infection caused hearing loss Daisy moved forward in her world travels as a young woman.  There came a time though when adventure had served its purpose, Daisy wanted to make a difference.

Hearing of Girl Guides in England, Daisy passionately desired to bring something similar home to America.  On March 12, 1912 the first meeting of the Girl Scouts was held in Savannah, Georgia; beginning Daisy's greatest adventure of all.  Giving not only time but designing uniforms, providing a meeting place, land for a basketball court, and a canoe for boating, Daisy wished for Girl Scouts to come from all walks of life without the restrictions of money, upbringing, ethnic or racial barriers.  No detail was to small or large for her attention; the ten Girl Scout laws, a handbook and a series of badges to earn.

Girl Scouts were seen all over Savannah participating in a variety of activities; some viewed them with disdain, others applauded their efforts.  For the first time new avenues were open to girls; holding their heads up high, enjoying the out-of-doors, feeling a sense of camaraderie, because of Daisy they began to believe that anything was possible for them.  Speaking across the country Daisy inspired others to begin troops in their communities, though her heart continued to remain with the girls in Savannah.

While the genre of biography is not the first place I look for reading material, I can say, in all honesty, that I have read this title repeatedly.  I am drawn to the single short concise sentences, the groupings of single sentences to make a point, a short paragraph or several paragraphs carefully written to present the true character of Juliette Gordon Low, Daisy.  Two techniques employed stand out:  within a sentence or paragraph an individual word or words will be sized larger and bolder to emphasize a thought or comment on Daisy or the historical time period and cleverly tucked in the illustrations are quotes from Low aiding in readers' understanding of her belief system; bringing readers into her world, the world she imagined for the Girl Scouts.  There is an effervescent quality to Corey's narrative matching that of her subject.

To make yourself strong and healthy it is necessary to begin with your inside.

Whatever you take up, do it with all your might.

Hadley Hooper's charming, forthright illustrations done in paint, ink and printmaking techniques, then scanned and arranged in Photoshop, could not have found a better venue than this title.  Her debut picture book displays hues in sync with Low's adventurous life, championing the cause of scouting, exploring and appreciating our natural world; greens, blues, golds, rusts and browns.  Nearly all the visuals, two page spreads, are brimming with vitality. 

From the first page picturing a young girl in a period dress, hand on her hip, holding a fishing pole in front of a tree house to the final two pages depicting framed portraits of notable women, all former Girl Scouts, Lucille Ball, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, with one empty, captioned with a single word, YOU, readers relive, visually, the journey taken by Daisy.  Whenever appropriate Hooper places those flowers, in all sizes, whose name Juliette Gordon Low bore; even the earrings she wears on the front cover. But my favorite by far is the cover hat illustration repeated in the center of the book with one of Low's quotes replacing the author's and illustrator's names across the hat band; a truly memorable illustration more than worthy of framing.

At the end of the book are three pages of extensive additional information and resource notes.  By following the link above to Hadley Hooper's website readers can click on Links and visit her Tumblr pages to see more of the book's illustrations. Selecting Extras on Shana Corey's website provides just that; more information about scouting and how to celebrate the 100th anniversary this year.

Here Come the Girl Scouts!:  The Amazing All-true Story of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, is an awe-inspiring title showcasing the accomplishments of a single woman; one of the best in 2012. 

I can't believe I still have this
 but it represents a great deal of work.
This is a continuation from the front.
  Thank you Juliette Gordon Low.

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