Stand Straight, Ella Kate: The True Story of a Real Giant
Written by Kate Klise
Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
What is it like to be different? What is it like to stand out in a crowd when all you want is to disappear? These are the questions Ella Kate Ewing faces every day. Ella Kate was born in rural Missouri in 1872. Although she was a normal baby, Ella Kate soon began to grow…and grow…and grow! She needed a special desk at school and wore men’s size twelve shoes. People laughed at her and called her a freak.
“I was too big for the world,” Ella Kate laments.
Although her parents keep telling her, “Stand straight, Ella Kate!” Ella Kate chooses to hide from the world.
Then, when Ella Kate is eighteen, a museum owner from Chicago asks her to appear at his museum. Ella Kate accepts, and discovers that being different can be the key to a whole new world. At a time when women could not work or vote and most people never traveled more than a few miles from home, Ella Kate’s size allowed her to become wealthy, travel all over North America, meet famous people, and have amazing experiences. Most of all, her travels taught Ella Kate to “stand straight” and be proud of herself, because being different can bring wonderful surprises.
Stand Straight, Ella Kate is a delightful book for second grade. The story is told in Ella Kate’s voice and the language is lively and easy to understand. The illustrations are warm and folksy, and show Ella Kate’s difficulties and triumphs. The end pages feature illustrated comparisons between Ella Kate and normal-size women which are sure to delight young readers, and an afterword provides facts about Ella Kate’s life. This is also a perfect book to read aloud to a second-grade class.
I also like this book because it shows that there is nothing wrong with being different and illustrates how children can take pride in themselves, no matter what is unique about them. This could be a good addition to an anti-bullying or tolerance reading list. Most of all, it is a gentle yet powerful story of a real person who found her special place in the world.