Coco Chanel written by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara and beautifully illustrated by Ana Albero: a good lesson about ambition and the importance of believing in ourselves

Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, Coco Chanel. Illustrated by Ana Albero. Translated by Emma Martinez

Published 2016 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 32p

 

My daughter who will be six soon has expressed her desire to become a ballerina promptly after she could stand and speak. The music in the house, the dress up games we played did nothing but encourage her. Contrary to my expectations, whenever I asked Ema if she wanted to take up ballet classes she declined, explaining that she already knew how to dance. And I interpreted her answer as a sign that her interests would change as children’s personalities are in progress.

The popular question What do you want to be when you grow up? does not necessarily establish children’s future occupation but their ambitions, defining their authentic dreams at the moment we ask the question.

And I was right when estimating that soon my daughter will change preferences. Now she wants to become a fashion designer as she was fascinated by Coco Chanel’s personality soon after we had read Chanel’s little biography included in the lovely collection Little People, Big Dreams, that focuses on the lives of outstanding people. The first to read in the collection was Frida Kahlo.

Following the death of her mother, Gabrielle Chanel had to grow in an orphanage. The nuns there found her strange because she was different. (To be irreplaceable one must always be different). While the other girls played, Gabrielle learned the art of sewing, which was helpful later when she could find a job as a seamstress.

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When not sewing, Gabrielle sang on the stage of a cabaret. It was at this time that she acquired the name Coco.

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When Coco finally went to bed, she dreamt in shapes and patterns.

Shortly she became famous due to her elegant and simple style. Coco is credited to be among the first to liberate women from their corsets. Initially she faced people’s skepticism and critics but her determination and energy made Coco successful.  Chanel opened more shops in Paris and started to sell not only clothes but jewelry, hats and perfumes as well.

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The French designer is not only a fashion icon but also an inspiring figure; her determination and perseverance made her a successful businesswoman, included by Time magazine on the list of 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Complement Coco Chanel with Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau, a charming story on the passion and loneliness of the artist

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