Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georgeby Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome
The musical superstar of 18th-century France was Joseph Boulogne—a black man. This inspiring story tells how Joseph, the only child of a black slave and her white master, becomes "the most accomplished man in Europe." After traveling from his native West Indies to study music in Paris, young Joseph is taunted about his skin color. Despite his classmates' cruel words, he continues to devote himself to his violin, eventually becoming conductor of a whole orchestra. Joseph begins composing his own operas, which everyone acknowledges to be magnifique. But will he ever reach his dream of performing for the king and queen of France? This lushly illustrated book by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome introduces us to a talented musician and an overlooked figure in black history.
In the spirit of their earlier collaboration (Young Pele: Soccer's First Star, 2007) the husband-and-wife team introduce readers to the life of a relative unknown: Joseph Boulogne, often known as "the Black Mozart."Boulonge was born on a plantation in the West Indies, the son of a Frenchman and a young Senegalese slave. Joseph was acknowledged and raised by both his parents, and his father encouraged his musical education in the Caribbean and Paris, where he became a darling of the French nobility. Despite the overt racism of pre-revolutionary France, he triumphed by dint of dedication and prodigious talent. James Ransome's rich, brushy strokes of vivid color expand the engaging text even as they evoke both the lush landscapes of the Caribbean and glittering candlelit interiors. The book's title is a bit of a puzzle. How many picture-book readers are familiar enough with the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to grasp that the life and impressive career of this Afro-Caribbean-French musical prodigy actually began before the sensation from Salzburg? That quibble notwithstanding, this is a story that needed to be told.(Picture book/biography. 5-9)
Meet the Author
LESA CLINE-RANSOME is the author of highly acclaimed picture book biographies, including Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star, called "stirring" in a starred review from Booklist; Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book about an African American baseball hero; Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, about an African American cyclist; and Helen Keller: The World in Her Heart. Visit her at www.lesaclineransome.com.
JAMES E. RANSOME is the illustrator of many award-winning titles, including Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star, a finalist for the NAACP Image Awards; Satchel Paige; and Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist. He is also the illustrator of Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor title and an ALA Notable Book; Creation, which won a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration; and Let My People Go by Patricia C. McKissack, winner of an NAACP Image Award. Visit him at www.jamesransome.com.
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The sample was HORRIBLE. I didnt even get to read the book, but I do love violin and a triumphant story.