Boy was I excited to read this book. Boy was I disappointed when I was done.
“The Little Girl” ostensibly is about Shirley Temple and her impact on America in the 1930s, but ends up being less focused on that. The author goes off track several times and weakens his story in the process.
For example, the entire first chapter is about Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. I guess it sets the stage for the Depression and Shirley, but I thought that meant that she and FDR would intersect again later in the book. They didn’t.
The author also spends an entire chapter on Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and it’s an excuse to explore race in movies in the 1930s. Yes, Bill Robinson and Shirley Temple were in some memorable scenes, but he was in only 4 of Shirley’s more than 30 starring vehicles. A little too much focus on him all things considered. I would love to see more about Bojangles – but in his own book.
The author also attempts to paint the Shirley Temple phenomenon as sexual – really? I felt he was really off base here.
Finally, the book felt like it went on one chapter too long. It tried to keep going after the Depression and into Shirley’s life as an ambassador – but that wasn’t the supposed focus of the book, according to the title.
I learned some things in this book, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.