While not a comprehensive treatment of Seeger’s life, this is an excellent introduction; read and sing along—loudly.

STAND UP AND SING!

PETE SEEGER, FOLK MUSIC, AND THE PATH TO JUSTICE

In the world of American folk music, Pete Seeger stood tall and proud in his unflinching, lifelong commitment to human rights and dignity.

Reich opens with a typical Seeger sing-along moment and then proceeds to trace his childhood, when his father exposed him to the troubles of the Great Depression. A trip to North Carolina introduced him to the five-string banjo. The following years produce a litany of musical activity, with Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, the Almanac Singers, and the Weavers. Then came years of blacklisting and Seeger’s steadfast refusal to accede to Congressional scare tactics. Protests against the Vietnam War, support of the civil rights struggle, and then a commitment to clean up the Hudson River kept his music steadily flowing. He remains a powerful influence on many musicians and left a legacy of children’s songs and protest songs that should be part of everyone’s listening. In his passionate and timely foreword, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary exhorts readers to follow Seeger's "spirit" and "turn challenge and adversity into greater determination and love for one another." Gustavson’s digitized gouache, watercolor, pencil, and oil paintings offer scenes from Seeger’s life in both full-page color and spot-art accompaniments.

While not a comprehensive treatment of Seeger’s life, this is an excellent introduction; read and sing along—loudly. (author’s note, quotation sources, selected sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3812-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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