THERE AIN’T NOBODY THAT CAN SING LIKE ME by Anne E. Neimark

THERE AIN’T NOBODY THAT CAN SING LIKE ME

The Life of Woody Guthrie
Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Woody Guthrie was a “radical folk prophet from grassroots America,” “Shakespeare in overalls,” and “a national treasure.” He was also a hard-traveling, hard-living man, refusing to be held down or held back by family, work, or the expectations of others. He wrote over 1,000 songs, married three times, had eight children, wrote fiction, drew cartoons, and performed across the nation from the 1930s to the late ’40s, when drinking and disease began to take their toll. The glory of Woody Guthrie’s music and the popular image of the traveling man with a guitar slung over his shoulder will be balanced in the reader’s mind by the tragedy of his final years and the odd coincidence of fire throughout his life. In this attractively made volume, complete with photographs, lyrics, family tree, and cartoons, Woody Guthrie is honestly portrayed. A strong point is the final section on the persistence of poverty in the US and the current singer/songwriters who carry on the folk tradition. Brevity is occasionally a problem when the impression given by the author’s accounts doesn’t fully match the historical record. When Woody’s father Charley was burned by the kerosene in a lamp his mother, Nora, was carrying, this was apparently more intentional than the author indicates. And when Woody visited Nora in the asylum in Norman, Oklahoma, Neimark’s account is that Nora didn’t recognize him, but, in fact, Nora became lucid for a moment and said, “You’re Woodrow.” Such scenes are not always documented. These quibbles aside, this is a volume that ought to be included in any collection of good books about Woody Guthrie, including Elizabeth Partridge’s This Land Was Made for You and Me (p. 107), Bonnie Christensen’s Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (2001), and Kathy Jakobsen’s This Land Is Your Land (1998). (author’s note, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83369-5
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2002




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