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Signed, Abiah Rose by Diane Browning
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Signed, Abiah Rose

by Diane Browning

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Inspired by Mirra Bank's PBS documentary, Anonymous Was a Woman (also available as a book of the same name), which examined the wealth of eighteenth and nineteenth century American folk art - samplers, quilts, paintings - created by unknown women, Diane Browning began work on her debut picture-book, Signed, Abiah Rose, which imagines what the life of one such woman artist might have been like.

Born into a prosperous farm family in the Genesee Valley, Abiah Rose had always wanted to make pictures: painting leafy tendrils on her father's wagon, and portraits of the farm animals on the family barn, her creative impulse could not be repressed. Finally, her father relenting, Abiah Rose was supplied with proper art supplies, and allowed to paint family portraits. Her work won the admiration of neighbors and townspeople, and she was eventually allowed to travel with her salesman uncle, and offer her services to other communities. But throughout it all, she was instructed not to sign her work, serious art being the province of men, and pride being unbecoming in a lady. Would Abiah Rose ever be able to sign her paintings, or would the little rose she worked into each one be her only connection to them...?

This charming picture-book 'biography' of a woman who never was - but could have been - is a true delight to read! The story itself is engaging, drawing the reader into Abiah Rose's story, true in historical detail to the time depicted (there is a list of terms used, at the beginning of the book), and yet completely accessible to contemporary children. The artwork - as one would expect in a picture-book about an artist - is lovely, with the same folk style as Abiah Rose's own. All in all, Signed Abiah Rose is a wonderful book, one which underscores the importance of allowing children to develop their natural potential, and that will inspire young would-be artists to stick with it. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 26, 2013 |
This story is beautifully written and has an intriguing subject, but I can't think of a single child under the age of 10 who would be interested in reading about 18th - 19th century folk artists and women's involvement in a very anonymous movement. I personally found the story fascinating and the pictures beautifully expressive of the time period, but it wouldn't circulate in my library. This might be a choice for a larger library, where there's a wider range of interests among the kids. Borrowed from the library.
  JeanLittleLibrary | Mar 2, 2011 |
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In pioneer days, a young girl who is a talented artist is encouraged to paint portraits, Bible scenes, and other pictures, but told never to sign her work, either because it would be a sign of pride or because artists are expected to be men.

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