Children love hearing stories, but that doesn’t mean that all stories have to be made up. In fact, often the most  awe inspiring stories come from the lives of real people. Biographies in illustrated narrative form seem to be big in the United States and lately they have also appeared, albeit very slowly, on our market, particularly those in picturebook format. One such series is Little People, BIG DREAMS, a new series published by Frances Lincoln which focuses on inspirational people from all walks of life.

coco_chanel_coverOne of the first titles in the series is Coco Chanel, which was written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Ana Albero and translated by Emma Martinez. It follows the early life of Gabrielle Chanel, from the orphanage where she grew up to to her success as a fashion designer.
Chanel’s life is particularly inspiring for several reasons. She came from nothing and built her success from very little, and made her niche in a business which at the time was completely controlled by men. Her revolutionary concepts on how women should dress  had a crucial influence in the liberalization of women through fashion: getting rid of corsets, wearing masculine clothes (including trousers and the famous Marinière).  This is particularly important because fashion is so often considered as trivial, yet here is a woman who has had a huge impact on women’s rights and every day life just by the design of her clothes.
This book tells Chanel’s story in simple straight forward text with quirky, child-friendly,  illustrations which allow the young reader to relate to Chanel as a person, and indeed to the child she once was.



This main text is really accessible and works well as a stand alone story for those readers choose to leave it at that. But for those who might want to know more, and for slightly older readers perhaps, the text is followed by a timeline (which includes photographs of Gabrielle Chanel) and suggestions for further reading also, allowing the book to be used on several levels and to work just as well as a book of general interest as as the base for a possible project. The series is beautifully produced and it is a delight to see narrative non-fiction books  of this calibre finally hitting our shelves. Don’t hesitate to check out the other titles in the series.


Buy a copy here.

Source: review copy from publisher