Stand Straight, Ella Kate

Stand Straight, Ella Kate: The Story of a Real Giant by Kate and M. Sarah Klise

When Ella Kate was born in 1872, she was normal sized, but that soon changed.  At school she needed a larger desk that her father built for her, and she was wearing her father’s shoes, size 12.  Ella Kate was sometimes ridiculed for her size.  At age 17, she reached 8 feet tall, finally growing to a height of 8 feet 4 inches tall.  When she was 18, she was approached to appear at a museum because of her height.  This started a six year tour of museums, exhibitions and circuses where she made enough money to pay off her family’s farm and build her own house.  It was a house that was built specifically for her height with very high ceilings and tall windows.  After building her home, Ella Kate returned to the exhibition circuit, continuing her travels around the world.

Ella Kate is an example for all of us: she took what made her different and strange and made it into an asset.  The Klise sisters have created a book that has just the right tone.  It is playful and fun, but always treats Ella Kate with awe and respect.  It is not just her size that is impressive for modern readers, but an understanding that Ella Kate was an independent woman in a time when women did not live that sort of life.  The art in the book, done with acrylics, echoes the playful spirit of the text.  The images often show Ella Kate’s height in a unique way without it being mentioned in the text.  Just the family laundry on the line is worthy of attention.

A warm picture book biography of a giant of a woman.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

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