Nina Jazz legend and civil-rights activist Nina Simone

Alice Brière-Haquet, 1979-

Book - 2017

With evocative black-and-white illustrations and moving prose, readers are introduced to Nina Simone, jazz-music legend and civil-rights activist. Shared as a lullaby to her daughter, a soulful song recounts Simone's career, the trials she faced as an African American woman, and the stand she took during the Civil Rights Movement. This poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of an iconic figure and an extraordinary look at how far we've come and how ...far we still need to go for social justice and equality. A timeless and timely message aptly appropriate for today's social and political climates.

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Subjects
Published
Watertown, MA : Charlesbridge 2017.
Edition
First US edition
Language
English
French
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 29 cm
ISBN
9781580898270
1580898270
Main Author
Alice Brière-Haquet, 1979- (author)
Other Authors
Bruno Liance (illustrator), Julie Cormier (translator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Nina Simone probably won't be a familiar name to primary graders, but that doesn't matter much in this captivating book focusing on the young Nina and how early events in her life shaped her adult passions. This begins with Nina singing a lullaby she's written to her daughter. At bedtime, she tells the child stories of her own youth. When she first saw a piano, she noticed the black keys were smaller than the white ones—and that could have become a metaphor for the world. "Black people were nothing but half notes on a huge ivory keyboard. But no. I did not agree with this." Another incident, after she's become an accomplished musician: at a concert, her mother is seated up-front until white audience members arrive. But Nina won't play if her mother must move, so her mother stays put. Later, Martin Luther King becomes "her symphony." But his dream must be nurtured, she murmurs as her daughter sleeps. This French import is strikingly illustrated in black-and-white. A two-page spread in which white people sit, while black people stand behind them, arms raised, conveys a historical drama made even more powerful by the medium. Perhaps because of its French origin, there's no author's note, nothing that further details Simone's career. But this stands on its own. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–5—Less a biography than a meditation, Brière-Haquet's take on Nina Simone is structured as a bedtime story told by the legendary musician to her daughter. In lyrical prose, the book reflects on Simone's early musical education and racial awareness as they grow hand in hand. From the black-and-white keys of the piano to the divisions that young Simone experienced among white and black people in her community, the book frames Simone's career as a mission to make "the notes…mingle and dance together in the air so these lies would disappear," erroneously asserting that "Music has no color." The telling abruptly shifts from Simone's early life to the influence of Martin Luther King Jr., whose dream is described as "my symphony. Black and white people…together in the big dance of life." Simone cautions that "the dream is fragile" and the book ends where it began, the singer lulling her daughter to sleep. As a firm but oversimplified telling, the text leaves something to be desired. In addition, though the illustrations are gently fantastical, Liance's choice to portray Simone as a light skinned, almost white, figure is deeply problematic. VERDICT An ambitious though unsuccessful work.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

With evocative black-and-white illustrations and moving prose, readers are introduced to Nina Simone, jazz-music legend and civil-rights activist. Shared as a lullaby to her daughter, a soulful song recounts Simone's career, the trials she faced as an African American woman, and the stand she took during the Civil Rights Movement. This poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of an iconic figure and an extraordinary look at how far we've come and how far we still need to go for social justice and equality. A timeless and timely message aptly appropriate for today's social and political climates.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Strikingly complemented by evocative black-and-white illustrations, an introduction to jazz music legend and civil rights activist Nina Simone is presented in the style of a lullaby to her daughter and soulfully recounts her career, the trials she faced and her achievements as an advocate for social justice. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

With evocative black-and-white illustrations and moving prose, readers are introduced to jazz-music legend and civil-rights activist Nina Simone. A stunning picture-book biography of the High Priestess of Soul and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. Shared as a lullaby to her daughter, a soulful song recounts Simone's career, the trials she faced as an African American woman, and the stand she took during the Civil Rights Movement. This poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of an iconic figure and an extraordinary look at how far we've come and how far we still need to go for social justice and equality. A timeless and timely message aptly appropriate for today's social and political climates.♦ "A good introduction to Simone’s life, from her early love of music to her rise to the status of legend" —Kirkus Reviews, starred review♦ "Strikingly illustrated" —Booklist, starred review♦ "Hauntingly beautiful illustrations" —Foreword Reviews, starred review"Stirring and powerful. . . " —BookPage