Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Imogen: the mother of three boys by Amy Novesky

Imogen: the mother of three boys
by Amy Novesky; Illustrated by Lisa Congdon
Cameron & Company. 2019
ISBN: 9781937359324
Ages 5 up

Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) is considered one of the finest photographers of the twentieth century. Born in Portland, Oregon, Imogen was named after a princess in a Shakespeare play, Cymbeline, but she didn’t expect life to be smooth and easy and beautiful.

Novesky’s picture book biography offers readers a glimpse into the life of Cunningham, who at 18 decided she wanted to be a photographer. She went to college where she studied chemistry and botany. (Chemistry was useful to know when developing your own photos). She read poetry. She was the only one in her family to graduate from a university.”

Imogen opened a shop in Seattle, made a name for herself as a portrait photographer, then married an etcher. In her author’s note, Novesky explains that women at the turn of the twentieth century were not expected to have a career. Their primary role was to focus on children and the home. “Imogen focused on her children and her home.” Called, "the mother of modernism and three boys, she photographed her three sons, and every afternoon, while they napped, Imogen photographed her flowers.  

Embellishing this enchanting book are drawings of Cunningham's photos by Lisa Congdon.

The only back matter is an author’s note and one photo taken by Cunningham. A self-portrait that includes her three sons. 

To learn more about Imogen Cunningham, click here.

I borrowed this book from my local public library to write this review.


  1. Looking forward to reading this book!

  2. I loved her Cloth Lullaby, so I'll look forward to reading this title! Thanks for the rec, Louise :)

  3. I love Amy Novesky's work, and this book is a great example. The angle in which she chose to approach Cunningham and her work is timely and refreshing.