*I received product(s) mentioned in this post for free in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% my own.*
Nina: Jazz Legend And Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone is a wonderful story written by Alice Briere-Haquet and beautifully illustrated by Bruno Liance. This book is published by Charlesbridge who publishes really great children’s books. You can find many awesome books from this publisher for babies and toddlers (board books) all the way up to young adult titles. Nina doesn’t release until December 5, 2017 so my family got a chance to read and review this one early. You may have noticed my other book reviews from Charlesbridge Publishing and along with those books and the books I have yet to review, Nina will be on my upcoming Holiday Gift Guide. This one is high on the book section of my guide!
Nina Simone; born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Simone employed a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. Born in North Carolina, the sixth child of a preacher, Waymon aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York. (Cite: Wikipedia)
About the book, Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone
“One night Nina Simone’s daughter has trouble falling asleep. So Nina tells her a bedtime story. It’s a story about talent and success, about racism and activism, and about standing up and speaking out. This is a timeless and timely introduction to jazz legend and civil rights activist Nina Simone, just right for today’s young readers.” From the inside jacket of the book.
As Nina is telling her daughter her story, she starts by telling her about learning the piano. She goes on to tell her she learned to play the classics by Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy. When she was only 12, she was asked to play and put on a performance at church. Her mom was sitting in the front seat but then she was made to move in the back and so Nina decided she was going to make a stand. She refused right in front of all the black and white people until her mother was allowed to sit in the front row again.
I love some of the metaphors in this book. Nina tells her daughter that when she first started learning the piano she noticed that all the white keys were whole while all the black keys were not. They were smaller. “Black people were nothing more but half notes on a huge ivory keyboard.” But she tells her daughter that she doesn’t agree with this. She says the notes had to mingle and dance with each other. Music had no color and in music there is only one rhythm and one heart.
She told her about Martin Luther King Jr. and how people followed him and that Martin became her symphony.
I absolutely love the illustrations in this book. They are all done in black and white. I thought the illustrations give the reader a strong idea of how things used to be. There’s even a two page spread of white people sitting on chairs in the front while all the black people had to stand behind them. I think that illustration is powerful enough to stand on it’s own. There’s another two page spread that I really love as well. It’s a picture of a piano all alone while sitting in front of a tree. You know what dandelions looks like after they turn into those “blowy flowers” as by son calls them? Well, it looks like a bunch of them are coming together in shades of black and white around the piano.
This book is recommended for ages 4 to 8 years old. My son and I had read it together and he has read it on his own a few times. I think the way this book is written and illustrated shows young readers what it was like back then. And teaches them about racism and civil rights in an age appropriate way. I love the way the book also ends because even though the story shows how far we have come, it also shows how far we still need to go for social injustice and equality.
I think this story opens up discussions with young children on these topics. After reading this book, my son was asking me more questions about Nina Simone as well so I told him more about her and we talked more about the story. This is truly a wonderful book for young readers!
Buy It: The listing price for Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone is $16.99 (hardcover). It doesn’t release until December 5, 2017 but you can pre-order it now on Amazon for $11.92. Remember, Amazon prices changes frequently. You can check out more information by visiting Charlesbridge Publishing website and also take a look around at some of their other books while you are at it!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. However, I received free product mentioned in this post from Charlesbridge Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in my review are 100% my own.