The legendary Miss Lena Horne

Carole Boston Weatherford, 1956-

Book - 2017

Surveys the life of the singer, actress, and civil rights activist, describing her childhood, early years in vaudeville, and achievements as the first African American actress to be offered a studio contract.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 29 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781481468244
1481468243
Main Author
Carole Boston Weatherford, 1956- (author)
Other Authors
Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Young readers may not know Lena Horne, but the captivating cover illustration of the singer will draw them into this exceptionally handsome book. Once inside, they will learn about both the life of Horne as well as the hardships that came with a show-biz career for African Americans in the 1930s, '40s, and beyond. Horne's family included a college dean, a hustler father, a vaudevillian mother, and a strict grandmother who intermittently raised her to achieve. But during the Depression, her mother moved her onstage, where she was soon singing with the likes of Cab Calloway. No matter how successful her career, however, there was segregation, humiliation, and, especially in Hollywood, roadblocks. She was a staunch civil rights advocate in the face of racism and blacklisting, an aspect of her life that is often overlooked. Weatherford's informative yet succinct text is juxtaposed against a happily oversize picture-book format that allows enough room for Zunon's impressive oil-paint-and-collage artwork. From the subtle expressions on Lena's face to the impressive two-page spread of her singing in front of a massive throng at the March on Washington, the art is inviting yet thoughtful. An author's note and discography for future fans gives the book a voice that will carry even farther. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Weatherford (Freedom in Congo Square) and Zunon (Don't Call Me Grandma) vibrantly capture the setbacks and triumphs of African-American performer Lena Horne, tracing her rise from a Brooklyn childhood to a singer and actress who faced persistent racism. Quotations from Horne and others provide sharp insight into her struggles ("They don't give us a chance very often, and when they do, we have to take it," Count Basie told her), and Zunon's warm-hued, multi-textured oil-and-collage images emphasize the determination of a woman who found her voice on stage as singer, actor, and activist. Ages 4–8. Author's agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–5—A lyrical biography from award-winning author Weatherford (Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement). The narrative follows Horne throughout her life and highlights her talent, activism, career highs and lows, love of reading, and lifelong dedication to civil rights. While the format is that of a picture book, the text, which alternates between short phrases and longer narrative paragraphs, may require a sophisticated reader. Complex concepts (studio contracts, blacklisting, lynching) are neither glossed over nor extensively addressed. Where this volume truly shines, though, is in its straightforward but multifaceted approach to the complicated realities of Horne's stardom, from segregated venues to skin-darkening makeup, contract negotiations to civil rights rallies and parenting. Weatherford celebrates Horne for her skill and for changing the game for those to come ("Because Lena refused/to darken rear doors,/black stars now gleam/on red carpets"). Zunon's paint and collage illustrations fill the pages with rich colors and remain true to the glamor of Horne's performances. Occasional text boxes featuring song titles or quotations work to varying success. Back matter includes an author's note about Weatherford's own connection with Horne and a list of further reading (however, the two print suggestions are written for older students). VERDICT Though it will likely need some selling on the part of librarians, this is a carefully crafted offering for thoughtful readers interested in the intersection of music, stardom, and civil rights.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A picture book tribute to the life of the pioneering African-American actress and civil rights activist describes her childhood in a family of teachers and activists, her early years in vaudeville and her achievements as the first black actress to be offered a studio contract. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Surveys the life of the actress and civil rights activist, describing her childhood, early years in vaudeville, and achievements as the first African American actress to be offered a studio contract.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford.You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more'the first ever studio contract for a black actress.But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. 'stormy Weather' became her theme song, and when she sang 'this Little Light of Mine' at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford.You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress.But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.