A voice named Aretha

Katheryn Russell-Brown, 1961-

Book - 2020

In this stirring biography of a true artistic and social icon, young readers learn how Aretha's talent, intelligence, and perseverance made her a star who will shine on for generations to come. --

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Picture books
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books 2020.
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 29 cm
Grades K-3.
Includes bibliographical references.
Main Author
Katheryn Russell-Brown, 1961- (author)
Other Authors
Laura (Illustrator) Freeman (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

This beautifully illustrated look at the life of the world-renowned Queen of Soul is a sensational introduction for young readers to the artist's life and body of work. Starting with Franklin's beginnings as a choir member and soloist at her father's church in Detroit, Russell-Brown (Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, 2014) highlights how a religious upbringing and ties to the burgeoning American civil rights movement influenced her trajectory as a singer and an icon. While Franklin's sadness over the loss of her mother is discussed, mention of her depression, drug use, and marital woes are largely avoided. Thankfully, Freeman's (Hidden Figures, 2018) interpretations of Franklin's various sartorial ensembles serve to move the story from decade to decade and will be instantly recognizable to fans. An excellent addition to children's biography collections, pair with Renée Watson's Harlem's Little Blackbird (2012), Patricia Hruby Powell's Josephine (2014), and Andrea Davis Pinkney's Rhythm Ride (2015) for more tales of historical Black musical excellence. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Shades of purple and gold predominate in this laudatory picture book biography of the Queen of Soul. Tracing Aretha Franklin's life from her 1940s–'50s childhood in Detroit, singing as part of her pastor father C.L. Franklin's "Gospel Caravan," to performing for President Barack Obama (pictured, but not named), it covers the major moments in the life and career of this musical legend—the death of her mother, her first church solo, the years of work and performance before she had a hit, and her eventual stratospheric success. Franklin's ongoing support of civil rights is a recurring theme: "Aretha sang only where people of all races could attend" and she "performed in lots of concerts to raise money for civil rights groups." Freeman's clear, crisp illustrations add welcome vibrancy to the text's straightforward narrative style. Additional biographical information and extensive notes from the author and illustrator are included. Ages 4–8. (Jan.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1–2—Shy young Aretha Franklin found her voice singing in the choir at her father's Detroit church. An early family tragedy taught her to draw strength from her sadness and use her talent to inspire and empower those around her, like the civil rights icons of her generation. Franklin's power shines through lush illustrations in bold, royal colors. In one scene, the singer is dressed in a sunshine yellow dress. President Obama wipes away a tear as he listens to Franklin. A sense of time and place are evoked with striking choices in hair and dress, visually emphasizing her indelible place in American culture. The text effectively describes the singer's ties to the civil rights movement and spotlights her importance as an enduring symbol of hope. VERDICT This richly detailed look at the Queen of Soul is an essential biography of an American icon.—Savannah Kitchens, Parnell Memorial Library, Montevallo, AL Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An inspiring picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, traces her life story from childhood as the shy daughter of a famous Detroit preacher and civil rights activist to become one of the most celebrated vocal artists of the past six decades as well as an outspoken proponent for equal rights. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In this stirring biography of a true artistic and social icon, young readers learn how Aretha's talent, intelligence, and perseverance made her a star who will shine on for generations to come. --

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An introduction to the life of Aretha Franklin covers major moments in her life, her childhood in Detroit, her music career, and her support of civil rights.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From acclaimed author and illustrator pairing comes a beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and how she fought for respect throughout her life.Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, a legend. But before she became a star, she was a shy little girl with a voice so powerful it made people jump up, sway, and hum along. Raised in a house full of talking and singing, Aretha learned the values that would carry her through life--from her church choir in Detroit to stages across the world. When she moved to New York City to start her career, it took years of hard work before she had a hit song. In the turbulent 1960s, she sang about "Respect" and refused to perform before segregated audiences. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha always remembered who she was and where she came from. In this stirring biography of a true artistic and social icon, award-winning creators Katheryn Russell-Brown and Laura Freeman show young readers how Aretha's talent, intelligence, and perseverance made her a star who will shine on for generations to come.Acclaim for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone2015 NAACP Image Award Nominee Outstanding Literary Work--Children 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor2015 ALA Notable Children's Book2015 Amelia Bloomer Project - Feminist Task Force2015 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction, Recommended Title