Signed, Abiah Rose

Diane Browning, Author, Diane Browning, Illustrator . Tricycle $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58246-311-7

With sturdy acrylic illustrations and a strong early American voice, newcomer Browning tells the story of a girl with a gift for portraiture and a host of relatives who aren't comfortable encouraging her. “Best not,” says her father to a request for Abiah to paint a cousin's picture. “Serious painting is not girl's work.” “Best not,” says Uncle Albion to Abiah's request to sign her work. He lets Abiah spend the summer with him in his wagon, however, selling her Bible pictures. “Tis good work, but will be appreciated more if you don't sign it, child.... A female painter's work will never be as highly valued.” Yet Abiah presses ahead with plans to set up a portrait shop. Abiah's voice is honest and distinctive: “I asked if I should sign my name to Flight , but Mama cautioned me against being prideful. So instead, I began making my own mark upon my pictures: a tiny rose.” Delicious 19th-century period touches appear throughout: a dogcart piled with painting supplies; a solemn baby in a nightdress sitting for its portrait. A winning combination of historical fiction and creative resolve. Ages 5–7. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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