Informational Books: Our Eleanor, A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life

22 Jul


Fleming, Candace. Our Eleanor: a scrapbook look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s remarkable life. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005.

Plot Summary:

Our Eleanor introduces young readers to a key figure in American political history, Eleanor Roosevelt.  The book visualizes the life of Eleanor, from the child of New York socialites, until her death as an activist and political leader.  Eleanor Roosevelt epitomizes female empowerment from her time.  As one of the most active and prominent first ladies in American history Eleanor Roosevelt worked on everything from housing the poor, to women’s issues, from helping her husband get elected president, to serving in the United Nations.  The book follows the life of this remarkable woman including excerpts from Eleanor herself, photos from throughout her life and photocopies of letters and speeches she gave.

Critical Analysis:

A Scrapbook at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life is a thoroughly accurate description of what readers will find when they open this book.  While the book does tell a narrative, every page of the book is filled with pictures, captions and copies of documents that supplement the story being told.  I was most impressed by the personalized nature of many of the chapters.  Fleming touches on Eleanor as the “ugly duckling” of her family, a child that had good reason to feel that she was unwanted by her family.  She talks about her families struggles with alcohol abuse, violence and suicide.  Many will be surprised to learn that Eleanor and Franklin are fifth cousins and came from extraordinarily different upbringings.  Yet even as a young child Eleanor greatly enjoyed feeding the poor and serving the public.

The strength of the book resides in its layout and its honesty.  The multitude of pictures and captions make the book easy to interpret for young readers.  Students can see the early pictures of Eleanor and Franklin embracing each other in the park in contrast to their lives in later years where Franklin’s mistress sits between them in a car.  The photos tell the story of Eleanor’s rocky relationship with her mother in law and with her children.

This book would make an excellent compliment in Social Studies classes and would be well suited to a book report or presentation.

*Classroom Guide available on author’s website.

Awards and Honors:
ALA Notable Book
Best Book for Young Adults
Jefferson Cup winner,Virginia Library Association
Junior Library Guild Selection
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2005
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal Winner
Parent’s Choice Gold Medal
Publisher’s Weekly Best Book 2005
School Library Journal Best Book 2005


“Candace Fleming has chronicled the life of Eleanor Roosevelt as no other. With photographs on every page and with special attention having been given each important person, place, and project, this book provides an exciting glimpse into a remarkable life. It will appeal to young and old alike.”

–Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley and Elliott Roosevelt Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandsons

“Candace Fleming’s portrait bursts at the seams with energy, and makes brilliantly clear why Eleanor Roosevelt is a perfect role model for American kids, and for kids around the world. Mrs. Roosevelt wasn’t the head of her time, she’s the head of our time.”

–James Carville

“Creating a unique form for biography—the collage—the author has given us a superbly rounded and penetrating portrait of one of our greatest women, Eleanor Roosevelt. No one can read it and not feel deeply grateful for her long service to the American people and to human rights the world round.”

–Milton Meltzer, five-time National Book Award finalist


Other Connections:

The author has a large collection of books including novels, biographies and historical picture books.  Collection as well as teacher guides can be found at



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