"To be young, gifted, and black."
A stunning picture-book biography of the High Priestess of Soul and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.
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.
Look Inside the Book:
Author & Illustrator Bios:Alice Brière-Haquet
Alice Brière-Haquet teaches high school literature and has published several books for children, including ONE Very Big Bear (Abrams) and Zebedee's Balloon (Auzou). She lives in France.
Bruno Liance is an illustrator, dad, and music lover. He has been making art full-time for fifteen years after studying decorative arts in Paris. He lives in France.
Awards & Honors:
Booklist, 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.
Foreword Reviews, starred review
A soft lullaby sung to comfort a sleepy little girl turns into the inspiring story of remarkable musical talent blossoming in the face of racial inequalities in Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone, by Alice Brière-Haquet. Hauntingly beautiful illustrations from Bruno Liance are in shades of black and white, light and shadow, to cast a dreamlike resonance over young Nina’s piano playing as she notices, reflects, and rises above the prejudice around her.
ISBN: 978-1-63289-691-9 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-63289-692-6 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 1. Standards 1-8, 10
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 2. Standards 1, 3-8, 10
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