Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century

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Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books (Random House LLC), Carole Boston Weatherford/Raul Colón

 

Opera. Amazing Voice. Black Woman. World Domination. 😉

Carole Boston Weatherford’s latest biography book tells the story of the talented opera singer, Leontyne Price who started in the segregated South of Laurel, Mississippi and rose to stages around the world. As a young girl, Leontyne’s parents, knowing she’d grow up in a segregated world, encouraged her talent and made sure she knew she was loved and important!

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Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books (Random House LLC), Carole Boston Weatherford/Raul Colón

Music came naturally to Leontyne and Marian Anderson was her inspiration. After she studied voice in college, she began on Broadway and would later dominate the opera stage. She was the first black singer to star at La Scala in Italy and would continue to enchant and inspire people, especially people of color, around the world with her long and impressive career.

This picture book is well written. Weatherford’s voice is strong and she knows how to tell a story with style; “Leontyne was in the church choir, praising God with her gift. A song of promise welled up in Leontyne, as it had in young Marian.” I love it. Raul Colón…what a boss. He’s one of my favorites because his illustrations are always FIRE. He uses watercolor, colored pencils and warm colors. His signature scratch technique is on every page and whenever he depicts music, he uses a rainbow swirl of color that envelops Leontyne. The colorful music is a part of her.

If you’re looking for an excellent new biography book about an often overlooked but well respected Black woman, check this one out! It’s pretty special.

Recommended for: 1st-2nd grade and up
Great for: Diversity, Music, Non-Fiction, Discussion, Inspiration, Opera, We Need Diverse Books, African American, Family, Girl Power, History, Segregation, BlackGirlsRock, Biography
Book Info: Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford/Illustrated by Raul Colón, 2014 Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books (Random House LLC)), ISBN: 9780375856068

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Mole Music

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Image Credit: Square Fish (Henry Holt and Company (Macmillan)), David McPhail

We may doubt ourselves and our abilities BUT, someone may be watching, learning and being inspired by what we do. We never know the effect we have on others.

In Mole Music, Mole is a proper mole (he digs and digs) but his life is rather mundane; he becomes lonely and searches for something new. On TV one night, he sees a man playing violin and decides that he wants to make beautiful music too. After many sour notes and years of practice, Mole becomes an extremely talented and beautiful musician but he thinks his music will never reach anyone. Little does he know his music soothes. He has a power that he doesn’t even realize; a power to unite people through music! Maybe one day he’ll leave his hole and see how much good he brings the world. I certainly hope he does and I hope he continues to make his music for himself as well.

McPhail’s watercolor and ink illustrations are lovely and I love Mole’s rotund body, cute snout and his fat fingers. The illustrations show two worlds at once to make one story. As we see Mole’s life, we can also see the effects his music has on the world above him. A sapling grows into a mighty tree and animals and humans are drawn to that spot. This is a great book for music lovers and is also a great reminder of the power we all hold inside ourselves!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Animals, Diversity, Music, Discussion, Inspiration
Book Info: Mole Music by David McPhail, 1999 Square Fish (Henry Holt and Company (Macmillan)), ISBN: 9780805067668

 

Beyond the Pond

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Image Credit: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), Joseph Kuefler

Sometimes it takes a new experience to see the “exceptional” in our everyday lives.

Ernest D. is an adventurous boy who finds life to be rather drab until he realizes that the pond in front of his house is infinitely deep. He grabs his supplies and with his trusty dog, takes a dive into the unknown. Underwater, it’s pretty amazing but when he reaches the other side of the pond, he finds a land of wonder and fantasy. Soon it’s time to go home though, but Ernest D. takes a bit of that wonder home with him and…his drab world isn’t so drab anymore. He sees it with more color!

The message of this book resonates with me because I lived abroad for several years and as any person who’s lived abroad/outside of their home for a long time knows, you’re quite changed by that experience. When I came back from Korea, I experienced some reverse culture shock and now that I’m well settled back into my home, I still carry a bit of “color” from my Korean life. I can’t help but be affected by my experiences on the other side of that large pond, the Pacific Ocean.

The digital illustrations in Beyond the Pond are very well done and I especially love the murky blue scenes underwater. Kuefler uses a mostly blue, green and brown palate for Ernest D’s world, but Beyond the Pond, the colors explode in brightness. Ernest D’s big expressive eyes reflect his feelings of excitement, fear and content. This book is excellent for discussion and for children who have a natural sense of exploration! Go forth and explore. 🙂

P.S. Pay attention to the front and back endpapers!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Adventure, Exploration, Discussion, Perspective, Friendship, Dogs
Book Info: Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler, 2015 Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), ISBN: 9780062364272