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NINA

A STORY OF NINA SIMONE

Do not miss this complex story of an American legend.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021


  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor

This biography of African American icon Nina Simone follows the development of her early musical talent to her popularity as a musician during the civil rights movement.

Born in North Carolina in 1933, Eunice Kathleen Waymon “sang before she could talk and found rhythm before she could walk.” Her mama, a minister, sang only church songs, and her daddy played the upright piano, teaching Eunice to play jazz when Mama was out. From the age of 3, Eunice played music at church while Mama preached. Eunice’s gift was undeniable, and the White woman Mama cleaned for during the week helped arrange music lessons, where Eunice learned classical piano, falling in love with Bach’s music. After high school, Eunice went to New York City to attend the Juilliard School of Music. But when she auditioned for a transfer to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she was not accepted, and she felt her dream of being a musician slipping away. When she took jobs in nightclubs, she performed as Nina Simone to keep her mother from discovering her secret. The narrative includes details of the love and support of family and community that gave Nina her early start, the disappointments and humiliations she suffered because of racism, and the determination and sheer love of music and of her people that carried her to success despite the setbacks. Todd’s musical prose allows readers into Nina’s perspective, and Robinson’s scenes and portraits absolutely sing with energy, keeping pace perfectly with the text as it expands beyond typical picture-book length. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Do not miss this complex story of an American legend. (note) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3728-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

MORE THAN PEACH

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

FRIDA KAHLO AND HER ANIMALITOS

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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