When I discovered Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters by Jeannine Atkins on the "Books for Youth" list in the Editors' Choice, 2010 section of the January 2011 issue of Booklist, I never suspected how much I would enjoy the book. I confess that I expected something light and rhyming. What I found were three powerfully emotional accounts about women overcoming difficult circumstances and profound insight about mother-daughter relationships.
Why is Borrowed Names poetry? It doesn't rhyme. It is, however, laid out in verse in pieces that never last more than three pages. The words are precise and economic and certainly meant to be read aloud. Any one of the three sections could be performed as a library program. The Laura Ingalls Wilder/Rose Wilder Lane section would be popular in many areas. I am surprised there is no audiobook available in CD or downloadable.
What also strikes me about this wonderful book is that it is really more about the daughters than the very famous mothers. Living up to expectations, wanting to please, and wanting to truly help one's mother as an equal are themes in all three stories. Atkins's writing demands mature readers, but I suspect that are many daughters who will identify with these stories. Mothers should read them, too. (It may have little appeal to guys - I enjoyed it but I am a bit older than the target audience.)
Atkins, Jeannine. Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters. Henry Holt, 2010. ISBN 9780805089349.