This coming Sunday, a new exhibition opens at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City: Dorothea Lange, Words & Pictures. To help get ready, I found two picture books about this special photographer and the iconic photograph that became the face of the Great Depression.
Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Sarah Green
Publisher/Date: Albert Whitman & Company/2017
Themes: photography, Great Depression, persistence, social activism, overcoming adversity, biography
Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Before she raised her lens to take her most iconic photo, Dorothea Lange took photos of the downtrodden from bankers in once-fine suits waiting in breadlines, to former slaves, to the homeless sleeping on sidewalks. A case of polio had left her with a limp and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Traveling across the United States, documenting with her camera and her fieldbook those most affected by the stock market crash, she found the face of the Great Depression. In this picture book biography, Carole Boston Weatherford with her lyrical prose captures the spirit of the influential photographer.
Read a review at Gathering Books.
Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of the Great Depression
Author: Monica Kulling
Illustrator: Sarah Dvojack
Publisher/Date: Page Street Kids/2019
Themes: Great Depression, migrant, Dust Bowl, photography
Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph is an icon of American history. Behind this renowned portrait is the story of a family struggling against all odds to survive.
Dust storms and dismal farming conditions force young Ruby’s family to leave their home in Oklahoma and travel to California to find work. As they move from camp to camp, Ruby sometimes finds it hard to hold on to hope. But on one fateful day, Dorothea Lange arrives with her camera and takes six photographs of the young family. When one of the photographs appears in the newspaper, it opens the country’s eyes to the reality of the migrant workers’ plight and inspires an outpouring of much needed support.
Bleak yet beautiful illustrations depict this fictionalized story of a key piece of history, about hope in the face of hardship and the family that became a symbol of the Great Depression.
Read a review at Miss Marple’s Musings.
I paired these books because they explore Dorothea Lange’s life and the creation of this iconic photograph, as a biography, in the case of Dorothea Lange, and in a fictional account, Ruby’s Hope, that posits how Lange may have met the Migrant Mother and photographed her. Read together, I think these picture books provide a fuller picture of this famous photographer and her most famous photograph. And for those who write picture books, reading these side by side as mentor texts is a fascinating way to explore how best to tell a person’s story.
Great pairing! Thanks for sharing these.
Perfect pairing. Thank you for sharing links to her photographs, which were honest and raw! Such a difficult time for our country and it’s good to know it is captured in Dorothea’s photographs. She certainly could capture a moment.
I’ve always found her photographs to be haunting. I’m really hoping I get to visit the upcoming MoMA show.