Reviews for Just Being Jackie


One of America's most elegant first ladies is introduced to a new generation of readers in this charming picture book. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was many things: style icon, journalist, book editor, art lover, historian, and shrewd politician. Cardillo pays homage to all of the enigmatic first lady's many facets by depicting her for young audiences as the Everygirl who happened to become a legend. The story opens with an image of Jackie not as a poised debutante but as a scrappy young equestrienne who is undaunted by the occasional spill from her horse. The courageous wind-swept girl with the dirt-smudged cheeks is eminently approachable, and as she matures into a beautiful woman, readers see that inner fortitude carry Jackie through the White House, unbelievable grief, and an inspiring journey of self-discovery. The author's message is expertly aided by Denos' stunning illustrations, which were created with pen, ink, pencil, and Photoshop and appear as if they came straight out of a sketchbook for Vogue. Whether Jackie is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower dazzled by the scenery or bowed in stately grief in her widow's weeds, the story told in this book is that of a woman in love: with her husband, with the City of Lights, with books, and with life. What an inspiring tale indeed. A lovely literary tribute that will inspire readers to want to know more. (author's note, illustrator's note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Publishers Weekly

Cardillo follows up her debut picture book, Just Being Audrey, also illustrated by Denos, with another biography of an important woman from history. She begins with young Jacqueline Bouvier’s fall off a horse: “She dusted herself off and got right back on. She was tougher than she looked... and knew how to stand out in a crowd without saying a word.” Cardillo focuses on Jackie’s early career as a journalist—a pursuit that was unconventional for women of her era. Her marriage to Jack Kennedy and his election to the presidency leads to her efforts to revitalize the White House and to help build diplomacy worldwide. Denos’s fluid, mixed-media art faithfully captures Jackie’s intellectual curiosity and love of reading as a child; her sophisticated, understated style as First Lady; and her professional prowess as an editor. She subtly conveys the moment of President Kennedy’s assassination through the drifting of red rose petals from Jackie’s bouquet into an inky gray spread. End notes from the author and illustrator offer a personal touch to this affectionate story of a figure of substance and grace. Ages 4–8. 


With cover art that celebrates First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s understated chic and Mona Lisa-esque inscrutability, this picture book biography will lure in a young audience right away. Cardillo focuses first on young Jackie’s determination to read broadly and see the world, and her early career as a journalist and her norm-defying indifference to marrying quickly; then, of course, there’s the meet-up with John Kennedy, and Cardillo moves from there to and beyond her White House years. It’s a fairly adulatory account, skipping past political and domestic turmoil to focus instead on the First Lady’s skill at diplomatic charm, her refurbishing of the neglected presidential residence into a show piece, her grace amid tragedy at her husband’s assassination, and—oh!—the clothes. The coverage doesn’t ever scratch much beneath the surface but relays instead howJackie’s tenure as First Lady exerted enduring influence on our view of the White House. A timeline (with the only reference to her remarriage to Aristotle Onassis), an adult bibliography, multimedia resources, author’s note, and illustrator’s note are included; mixed media-illustrations, with stylish pencilwork and touches of luminous color, have an appropriate blend of glamor and character.