Stand Straight, Ella Kate: The True Story of a Real Giant

Kate Klise, Author, M. Sarah Klise, Illustrator
Kate Klise, Author, M. Sarah Klise, Illustrator Dial 16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3404-3
Reviewed on: 04/26/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
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The Klise sisters (the Little Rabbit books) tell the story of Ella Kate Ewing, who turned what could have been a miserable existence into a life of dignity. Gigantism, not understood in the 19th century, made Ella a child who needed a specially made desk and wore size 12 shoes. The advice her parents gave her forms the title of the book, but Ella, 8’4” by age 22, suffered, and Kate Klise portrays her plight with sensitivity: “I was too big for the world.” As a museum exhibit in Chicago, the discomfort of public display is offset by the phenomenal pay; at 18, she makes more in five months than her father’s farm makes in five years. Wealth brings independence, a house, and a thirst for new experiences: “[T]he more I saw of the world, the more I wanted to see. Because as big as I was, the world was so much bigger. And I intended to see it all.” M. Sarah Klise’s acrylic paintings give a sense of the historical setting without drawing attention to themselves; modest colors and conventional forms echo Ella’s humility. A quiet story with unexpected impact. Ages 6–8. (May)
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