Odetta: The Queen of Folk

Stephen Alcorn, Illustrator, Samantha Thornhill, Contribution by
Samantha Thornhill, illus. and conceived by Stephen Alcorn, Scholastic Press, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-439-92818-2
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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Thornhill's poem pays powerful tribute to the folk-singing legend, beginning with early experiences that shaped her music ("Spirituals, gospel,/ prison, and work/ songs: the cup/ of soup Odetta/ grew up on!") and her first exposure to segregation when her family moved to Los Angeles. As Odetta grows older, she discovers her voice ("Odetta couldn't/ just sing, she/ could sang./ To sang is to sing/ like you need the music/ as much/ as birds/ need sky") and becomes a central figure in the civil rights movement. Filled with stars, candles, lightning bolts, music notes, and angels, Alcorn's rousing compositions borrow from folk art traditions, religious imagery, graphic design, and 1960s album cover art, creating a rich tapestry that trumpets the power of this singular figure. Ages 7–10. (Dec.)
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