Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head (Jeanne Walker Harvey)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, written by Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrated by Diana Toledano, a look at the life of the famed designer.

Growing up in a tiny desert mining town in Nevada, little Edith longed for a little more excitement and adventure than the dusty desert horizon. She amused herself by hosting tea parties for toys and pets, as well as collecting scrap fabric and fashioning outfits for them. Having the opportunity to attend high school in Los Angeles, Edith was immediately smitten with the glamour and bustle of Hollywood movies, and after a brief time as a teacher, she worked her way into costume design… despite having zero talent for sketching! Edith faced several setbacks and hurdles to overcome during her climb to notoriety, but eventually became the most respected and awarded costume designer in American film history.

Encouraging and fun, but noticeably uneven. There are absolutely some fun and funny stories about the unlikely and rocky start to this titan of costuming’s legacy, and Harvey should be commended for focusing equally on Head’s unsuccessful as well as successful ventures, as it shows young readers that mistakes and hard work are inevitable on the path to success. Yet while the stories about Edith’s early life and career are absolutely charming and give the reader a good sense of her early passion for design, it leaves little room for the period of her life during while she was actually revolutionizing her industry. The narrative is half-comprised of Edith’s childhood, then jumps quickly from her rocky early years to her rising stardom to her earliest successes with scarcely a breath. It’s a little disappointing, as it feels like much of what made Edith Head so extraordinary in her field isn’t explored nearly as much as it could have been. Otherwise, Toledano’s illustrations are a stylish treat, the length is fine for a storytime, and JJ especially enjoyed the spread on Edith’s ignoble run as an animal actor costumer. Overall, worth a look, especially as a lesson on perseverance – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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