Hello, friends! Our book today is That’s Betty: The Story of Betty White, written by Gregory Bonsignore and illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter, a sweet look into the television icon’s life and work.
When a young boy is assigned a presentation on a “trailblazing woman,” he is thrilled to pick one of his favorite icons: Betty White. While his teacher and dads encourage him to perhaps pick someone more traditional, the boy has his heart set on White, and heads to the library to research her life. While there, he meets a mysterious woman who seems to be as much a Betty White fan as he is, and helps him with interesting details of her record-setting television career: her role as producer when few women held such a position, her genre-redefining work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls, and her commitment to animal charities. When the boy gives his presentation, a surprise guest shows up: his friend from the library! But as she leaves, he suddenly realizes – that’s Betty!
A heartfelt if somewhat bittersweet celebration of an icon. Originally set to release before White’s death at the end of 2021, this combination of biography and fictional encounter with the beloved Betty White strikes a sweet and playful tone befitting the late star’s image and personality. Some of the writing feels a little mature (such as a “third time’s a charm!” joke in reference to White’s third marriage to Allen Ludden), but also does a nice job of exploring what made White a trailblazer, such as her fight to spotlight entertainers of color like Arthur Duncan, and the groundbreaking way Golden Girls humanized the lives of the elderly. Potter’s gouache-and-digital illustrations are charming and clever (I giggled at the Lake Placid crocodile balloon in the Macy’s Day parade), and feature a welcome diversity of characters in the fiction scenes. The length and tone are definitely best for elementary-aged bookworms, and JJ enjoyed it. There are a few stumbles and, with such a recently-passed icon, a small undertone of grief. Ultimately, however, this earnest and sincere love letter to White does her justice, and is worth a look. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)