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WOODY GUTHRIE

POET OF THE PEOPLE

This moving biography honors the life and work of the legendary folk singer who celebrated the lives of working people all over the US. Guthrie, born in Oklahoma in 1912, came from a poor family filled with music, but devastated by death and illness. As a youngster, he absorbed the sounds of country living and the traditional music of Oklahoma and Texas. Later, during the Great Depression, he used these memories to become a popular voice for the dust bowl refugees, writing and singing about them and performing on radio in Los Angeles. He spent years moving from place to place in support of the union movement, migrant field workers, and coal miners. Christensen (Moon Over Tennessee, 1999, etc.) writes briefly of his marriages, his children, and his eventual tragic death from Huntington’s disease, but the thrust is his devotion to the cause of downtrodden workers. The words of his signature song “This Land is Your Land” run along the top of each page and are printed in their entirety at the end along with a timeline and Web site citation. (No bibliography or source notes are included.) Christensen’s text is strong and beautiful, as rich in images as her subject’s music. Through them, the reader will get a wonderful sense of the soul of her subject and his times. Read aloud, this could work for younger readers, but the dramatic mixed media, woodcut-like illustrations in a picture-book format will attract older ones as well. A powerful, lyrical tribute to the musician whose music is so much a part of our lives. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81113-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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HERE COMES MOTHER GOOSE

This oversized companion to the much ballyhooed My Very First Mother Goose (1996) will take toddlers and ex-toddlers deeper into the playscapes of the language, to meet Old King Cole, Old Mother Hubbard, and Dusty Bill From Vinegar Hill; to caper about the mulberry bush, polka with My Aunt Jane, and dance by the light of the moon. Mixing occasional humans into her furred and feathered cast, Wells creates a series of visual scenarios featuring anywhere from one big figure, often dirty or mussed, to every single cat on the road to St. Ives (over a thousand). Opie cuts longer rhymes down to two or three verses, and essays a sly bit of social commentary by switching the answers to what little girls and boys are made of. Though Wells drops the ball with this last, legitimizing the boys’ presence in a kitchen by dressing them as chefs, in general the book is plainly the work of a match made in heaven, and merits as much popularity as its predecessor. (Folklore. 1-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0683-9

Page Count: 107

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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ALL BY HERSELF

POEMS

Prose poems celebrate the feats of young heroines, some of them famous, and some not as well-known. Paul (Hello Toes! Hello Feet!, 1998, etc.) recounts moments in the lives of women such as Rachel Carson, Amelia Earhart, and Wilma Rudolph; these moments don’t necessarily reflect what made them famous as much as they are pivotal events in their youth that influenced the direction of their lives. For Earhart, it was sliding down the roof of the tool shed in a home-made roller coaster: “It’s like flying!” For Rudolph, it was the struggle to learn to walk without her foot brace. Other women, such as Violet Sheehy, who rescued her family from a fire in Hinckley, Minnesota, or Harriet Hanson, a union supporter in the fabric mills of Massachusetts, are celebrated for their brave decisions made under extreme duress. Steirnagle’s sweeping paintings powerfully exude the strength of character exhibited by these young women. A commemorative book, that honors both quiet and noisy acts of heroism. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201477-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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