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Caribbean Carnival: Songs of the West Indies

Caribbean Carnival: Songs of the West Indies

by Irving Burgie, Frane Lessac (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even the art has rhythm in this splendid book of calypso songs. Burgie, who wrote music and lyrics for such seemingly ageless songs as ``Day-O'' (``Daylight come and me wan' go home'') and ``Jamaica Farewell'' (``Down the way, where the nights are gay . . . ''), shares four of his liveliest works as well as his piano and guitar arrangements for nine Caribbean folksongs. Lessac ( Caribbean Canvas ; My Little Island ) captures the infectious beat in dynamic gouache paintings that demonstrate both a dramatic color sense and a fondness for pattern--everything in her primitive-style pictures appears to be dancing. In the varied layout, each title is set against eyecatching horizontal borders that echo the song's themes. Sultry tropical light bathes this book; it's both exotic and refreshing. A helpful afterword by Rosa Guy outlines a history of calypso music. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
"Day-O,"Yellow Bird," and "Jamaica Farewell" are three of the calypso classics composer/arranger Irving Burgie included in his selection of West Indies songs for Caribbean Carnival. With raspers they've made out of notched dowels and simple shakers of pea-, rice- or bean-filled bottles, cans, and cardboard tubes, have children form a rhythm section to accompany themselves as they sing these lively tunes. The very simple piano accompaniments have guitar chords noted. Frane Lessac's primitive paintings set the upbeat mood.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1 Up-- Thirteen popular calypso songs are featured in this colorful collection. Traditional chants and ballads from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and elsewhere as well as Burgie's original compositions, which were popularized by singer Harry Belafonte, appear. Such selections as ``Day-O,'' ``Michael Row the Boat,'' ``Yellow Bird,'' and ``Que bonita bandera'' are included. The lyrics of the latter have been translated into English at the bottom of the page. Accompanying the arrangements are full- or double-page paintings and a title bar in Lessac's characteristic, primitive style. Her bright colors and lively scenes will attract young readers to the work, and she does a good job of showing the multiethnic heritage--African, Indian, European--of the residents of the region. An informative afterword by Rosa Guy, which is written for adults but may be read and understood by older children, traces the origins of the songs in African tradition and in the experience of African-descended peoples in the West Indies. Along with Lulu Delacre's Arroz con leche (1989), Las Navidades (1990, both Scholastic), and others, this book is a valuable addition to collections of music from the Americas. --Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Julie Corsaro
. Dust off your old Harry Belafonte records and throw in a limbo stick for good measure: Burgie, composer and lyricist of the calypso classic "Day-O'," and Caribbean folk artist Lessac have collaborated on a vibrant and vigorous collection of 13 original and traditional songs of the West Indies. An eloquent and informative commentary by African American writer Rosa Guy places these lilting, highly syncopated work songs, spirituals, ballads, and children's songs in an appropriate social, historical, and cultural context. Among her perceptive comments, Guy tells readers that "Panama Tombe" is named not after the country but after the panama hat worn by a pompous Haitian politician. The boldly colored, naive-style gouache paintings have intricate details and flat figures that capture the color and character of everyday life on the islands--from bustling "Kingston Market" to the celebration of drum-pounding "Carolina Karo" to the fishing waters that inspired "Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore." Translations of Spanish and French Creole lyrics are provided, along with easy arrangements for piano and guitar.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 11.33(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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