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Elizabeth's Song

Overview

Elizabeth’s Song tells the inspirational story based on the young life of the noted African American folksinger, guitarist, and songwriter, Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten. Elizabeth borrows a guitar from a friend and teaches herself to play it left-handed. Eventually, Elizabeth earns enough money to buy a guitar of her own and, when only eleven years old, writers her first song. That song, “Freight Train,” has become a folk music classic. Elizabeth’s unique style of playing guitar (upside down and backwards), from ...

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Overview

Elizabeth’s Song tells the inspirational story based on the young life of the noted African American folksinger, guitarist, and songwriter, Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten. Elizabeth borrows a guitar from a friend and teaches herself to play it left-handed. Eventually, Elizabeth earns enough money to buy a guitar of her own and, when only eleven years old, writers her first song. That song, “Freight Train,” has become a folk music classic. Elizabeth’s unique style of playing guitar (upside down and backwards), from which the term “cotton-picking” is derived, has inspired countless other artists.

A fictionalized account of how an eleven-year-old girl, Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten, saved to buy her first guitar and composed the popular folksong, "Freight Train." Includes a brief summary of her life's work and awards.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An inspiring true story.
—Pete Seeger

What a wonderful way to bring Elizabeth's legacy to new generations to come.
—Bonnie Raitt

A lovely story.
—Gordon Lightfoot

Children's Literature
Focusing on "Freight Train," Elizabeth Cotten's best-known song, this fictionalized biography presents a realistic picture of this African American folksinger and songwriter. Elizabeth's love of music was inborn. The only instrument she had access to was her brother's guitar, which he let her play while he was working. Being left-handed, Elizabeth played by turning the guitar upside down placing the bass string on the bottom. This worked for her and is the way she continued to play throughout her life. "Freight Train" was composed when she was eleven years old. A loving family is portrayed in the full-page, softly colored illustrations. Elizabeth's emotions range from deep sadness when her brother leaves for better job opportunities to utter joy when she finally saves enough money to buy her own guitar. A nice addition to the picture book biographies section. 2002, Beyond Words,
— Phyllis Kennemer
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Set in Chapel Hill, NC, in 1903, this fictionalized story introduces readers to folk-musician Elizabeth Cotten. Young Elizabeth's love of music is so strong that she teaches herself to play her older brother Louis's guitar-left-handed and upside down. When he leaves home for a better life in the north, she works hard to earn enough money to buy her own guitar. At age 11, she writes her first song, "Freight Train," inspired by Louis's departure on train Number 9. An epilogue provides factual information about Cotten. The composition and design of this appealing picture book lure readers into finding out about this inspiring young African American. The descriptive language allows youngsters to visualize the scenes: for example, a passing train makes "a sudden rush of wind and sound, like a brass band gone wild." The soft, realistic watercolors complement the story, portraying the peace and joy the girl experiences when performing her music and the sadness she feels when her brother leaves. An appealing and satisfying book.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582700694
  • Publisher: Aladdin/Beyond Words
  • Publication date: 12/9/2002
  • Pages: 30
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Wenberg is the adoptive father of three children from Korea. In addition to writing, Mike volunteers at his children's schools, works on his mini-farm, and plays trombone in a local jazz combo. A graduate of Gonzaga University, Mike now lives outside of Walla Walla, Washington. Elizabeth's Song is his first children's book.

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