Review: Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business

Title: Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business
Author: Denene Millner, Salini Perera (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Nonfiction
Publisher: Rebel Girls
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes a story based on the life of Madam C.J. Walker: America’s first female self-made millionaire.

Sarah is the first person in her family who wasn’t born into slavery in Delta, Louisiana. But being free doesn’t mean that Sarah doesn’t have to work. She cooks, she cleans, she picks cotton, she does laundry, and she babysits. And when she works, she wraps up her hair.

One day, Sarah’s hair starts to fall out! It’s itchy, crunchy, patchy, and won’t grow. Instead of giving up, Sarah searches for the right products. And then she invents something better than any shampoo or hair oil she’s used before. Her hair grows and grows! That’s when she decides to rebrand herself as “Madam C.J. Walker,” and begins her business empire.

Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business is the story of a leader in the hair care industry, but it’s also an inspiring tale about the importance of empowering women to become economically independent.

Includes additional text on Madam C.J. Walker’s lasting legacy, as well as educational activities designed to teach entrepreneurship.


Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was an entrepreneur in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who created hair care products for Black women. She is considered the first female self-made millionaire. After dealing with hair loss and dandruff, she was introduced to products that could grow her hair. When those products made her hair grow, she developed her own formula to help women across America. Madam C.J. Walker was an inspiring woman. 

I love the Rebel Girls books about women who have accomplished incredible achievements, so I was excited to try their new chapter books about specific inspiring women. Madam C.J. Walker is a huge inspiration considering she created products for Black women during a time when Black people were fighting for civil rights in America. She was turned away from the powerful Black and white men who she approached for help, so she had to achieve it all on her own. 

I can remember learning about Madam C.J. Walker in school, but I didn’t know the extent of all that she achieved throughout her lifetime. It’s quite inspiring so see someone who overcame every obstacle and became a success. I highly recommend this beautifully illustrated book!

Thank you Rebel Girls for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code by Corinne Purtill, Marina Muun (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest
  • Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code
  • Junko Tabei Masters the Mountains
  • Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage

Have you read Madam C.J. Walker Builds a Business? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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