August 13, 2012
Stand Straight, Ella Kate: The True Story of a Real Giant by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise
Ella Kate Ewing was born in 1872. Her parents had a farm in Rainbow, Missouri where Ella Kate grew up and up and up. Her Papa had to bring a special desk to school for her because the others were all too small. She wore men’s shoes and her Mama made her dresses last longer by sewing extra fabric to the bottoms of the skirts.
Ella Kate’s first public appearance was a disaster. Her classmates had chosen her to recite the Declaration of Independence at a 4th of July Celebration for people from three different counties. Unfortunately, some of the strangers were more interested in Ella Kate’s appearance, she was almost 6 feet tall, then in her words. Overhearing their rude comments, she ran from the stage in tears.
This makes it even more surprising that Ella Kate ended up working in a Chicago Museum. She didn’t sell tickets or guide tours. Ella Kate was an attraction. For one month, she wore a long, fancy dress and people filed past staring up at her — she was now 7 feet tall. In one month, she made more than her Papa could make in one year on the farm.
Museums. World Fairs and more. These appearances allowed Ella Kate to do what few women at that time could do — she saw the world and made a living for herself.
This is a truly unbelievable story that I was surprised I hadn’t heard before. Kate Klise pulls readers in with this first person story. M. Sarah Klise created a series of acrylic paintings that help bring the story to life, showing the difference in size between Ella Kate and those around her.
Share this story with the young nonfiction lover in your life. It is perfect for discussing diversity, adversity and just what makes each and every one of us a valuable human being.