For your DD or favorite neice! Different Like Coco By Elizabeth Matthews Candlewick, 29 pages, $16.99 On the front cover of this charming picture-book biography, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel strides with her nose in the air past a plump, beribboned and apprehensive pug dog. The illustration is a perfect introduction to the life story of the designer who shocked the corseted world of early 20th-century fashion with her sporty, modern clothes -- and revolutionized the way women dress. But "Different Like Coco" isn't so much a book about frocks as it is about one girl's gumption, hard work and refusal to accept what was initially a small lot in life. Born "poor and skinny," Coco Chanel was left motherless at 12. She was sent to a convent, where she learned to sew. At 18, she was enrolled in finishing school as a charity case and had to sit with other unfortunates separately from the paying students. "Despite the overwhelming and humiliating distinction drawn between rich and poor," Elizabeth Matthews writes, "Coco learned to carry herself with as much pride and elegance as the wealthiest young ladies. She studied their neatly polished shoes and even more polished manners, and matched them from her confident posture all the way up to her arrogant smile." The ink-and-watercolor illustrations here are wonderfully witty: We see young Coco telling whoppers in the confessional, strolling jauntily past a pair of overstuffed matrons and, later, poised and cool, batting her eyelashes at Arthur "Boy" Capel, the fellow who bankrolled Chanel's first boutique. "It was love at first sight, though they never married," the author observes tastefully. Indeed, that's all young readers age 6-12 need to know, for the real story here is the inspiring style and self-belief of the daring couturier who first brought women the "little black dress."