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Let Freedom Sing
     

Let Freedom Sing

by Vanessa Newton (Illustrator)
 

On benches just for 'colored,'
black folks obeyed the rules.
Rosa Parks at the front of the bus,
she let her light shine.

In the 1950's and 1960's, the struggle for civil rights forever changed the landscape of America. In her debut Blue Apple book, Vanessa Newton candid images illuminate anew the inequality that affected Americans, young and old.

Overview

On benches just for 'colored,'
black folks obeyed the rules.
Rosa Parks at the front of the bus,
she let her light shine.

In the 1950's and 1960's, the struggle for civil rights forever changed the landscape of America. In her debut Blue Apple book, Vanessa Newton candid images illuminate anew the inequality that affected Americans, young and old.

With an introduction by Ruby Bridges and text to the tune of "This Little Light of Mine," Newton's rich, mixed-media illustrations create a vivid message of hope.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The lyrics of Harry Dixon Loes's gospel song “This Little Light of Mine” ring throughout this tribute to individuals who let “their inner light” shine during the civil rights movement. Newton's concise text touches on landmark incidents, underscoring the courage of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., the Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro Four and Ruby Bridges. After referring to Lyndon Johnson's contribution (he “helped to change the law./ Civil rights for everyone”), the narrative leaps rather jarringly to the present, as the president addresses the sprawling crowd at his inauguration: “Speaking to all Americans,/ Barack Obama had a dream./ As President of the United States,/ He let his light shine.” Illustrating the often-repeated refrain, “Let it shine!” are images of the segregated 1950s and '60s: black and white passengers boarding a bus through different doors, children drinking from separate water fountains. Newton's electric-hued digital compositions have a distinctly retro feel, incorporating postage marks, scraps of text and other layered elements. Potentially a conversation starter, the text's vagueness and lack of detail will necessitate outside resources. All ages. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—Music played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. One of the songs, This Little Light of Mine, serves as a recurring focal point in this book. The well-designed book features large, colorful, deceptively simple images highlighting significant dates and events in the African-American struggle for equality. The illustrations are thought-provoking and sure to prompt questions such as, why, in one spread, the children on one page are black and entering a school, or drinking from a water fountain, while on the opposite page, all the children are white and walking toward another school, and drinking from a separate fountain? Text is kept to a minimum, with a few carefully chosen words to describe what is visually represented on each page. For example, one page of a spread reads, "February 1, 1960. The Greensboro Four"—followed by their names. The facing page reads, "Students at lunch counters—/They hoped to be served. As the Greensboro Four sat waiting,/they let their lights shine." While this is a good introduction to the topic, it sometimes presupposes prior knowledge of, or exposure to, African-American history. Pair this offering with This Little Light of Mine, illustrated by E.B. Lewis's (2005), and/or Ashley Bryan's Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals (2007, both S & S), both of which include verses and musical notes.—Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
This volume takes the song "This Little Light of Mine" and makes it an extended celebration of the heroes of the Civil Right Movement, from Rosa Parks to Barack Obama, who "let their lights shine." There is a jump-on-the-bandwagon feel here, with very little new ground covered. Every icon of the movement is illustrated in nostalgic bursts of color: buses, walkers, schools, water fountains, lunch counters, the March on Washington and Barack Obama's inauguration. The problem is that the illustrations border on stereotypic. Universally jolly, round-faced folk in every shade from light pink to dark brown fill each page. Many illustrations directly reflect familiar iconic photos, but one, the picture of Martin Luther King at the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, is awkwardly off: LBJ, using his left hand, is shaking King's left hand, in a mirror image of a news photo. The pages move chronologically except for one spread, oddly in the middle of the book, that appears to be modern folks singing in a multiracial tableau. A too-intentionally inspirational muddle. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934706909
Publisher:
Blue Apple Books
Publication date:
09/02/2009
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 Months to 18 Years

Meet the Author

Vanessa Newton was a little girl of only three when she found a box of crayons and wished to be an artist. She used many surfaces as canvases, such as white walls and the sides of the kitchen stove. At school, Vanessa met a teacher/artist who encouraged her and now she is living her dream. She is largely self-taught, though she has attended art school in New York. She lives in East Orange, New Jersey with her husband, their seven-year-old daughter, and a fat cat named Kirby.

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