Odetta

Odetta

by Stephen Alcorn
     
 


A picture book that shines light on the indomitable life of one of the most influential American folksingers in the history of our country.

In the spirit of WHEN MARIAN SANG, this book introduces young readers to Odetta, an American folk legend. Lyrical text and striking paintings tell the story of the incredible singer whose life and works inspired such icons

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Overview


A picture book that shines light on the indomitable life of one of the most influential American folksingers in the history of our country.

In the spirit of WHEN MARIAN SANG, this book introduces young readers to Odetta, an American folk legend. Lyrical text and striking paintings tell the story of the incredible singer whose life and works inspired such icons as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Tracy Chapman. The book comes from the author's long and fruitful artistic relationship with Odetta and is based on personal dialogues he had with her before her death in December 2008.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thornhill's poem pays powerful tribute to the folk-singing legend, beginning with early experiences that shaped her music ("Spirituals, gospel,/ prison, and work/ songs: the cup/ of soup Odetta/ grew up on!") and her first exposure to segregation when her family moved to Los Angeles. As Odetta grows older, she discovers her voice ("Odetta couldn't/ just sing, she/ could sang./ To sang is to sing/ like you need the music/ as much/ as birds/ need sky") and becomes a central figure in the civil rights movement. Filled with stars, candles, lightning bolts, music notes, and angels, Alcorn's rousing compositions borrow from folk art traditions, religious imagery, graphic design, and 1960s album cover art, creating a rich tapestry that trumpets the power of this singular figure. Ages 7–10. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

Publisher's Weekly Starred Review:
Thornhill's poem pays powerful tribute to the folk-singing legend, beginning with early experiences that shaped her music (\u0022Spirituals, gospel,/ prison, and work/ songs: the cup/ of soup Odetta/ grew up on!\u0022) and her first exposure to segregation when her family moved to Los Angeles. As Odetta grows older, she discovers her voice (\u0022Odetta couldn't/ just sing, she/ could sang./ To sang is to sing/ like you need the music/ as much/ as birds/ need sky\u0022) and becomes a central figure in the civil rights movement. Filled with stars, candles, lightning bolts, music notes, and angels, Alcorn's rousing compositions borrow from folk art traditions, religious imagery, graphic design, and 1960s album cover art, creating a rich tapestry that trumpets the power of this singular figure. Ages 7–10. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Barbara Wheatley
Odetta, "the queen of folk music," was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1930 and as a young girl she loved to plink on her aunt's piano, imagining she was a famous musician with tons of people watching her. To her aunt she just made head splitting noise, and Odetta was not allowed to tickle the ivories anymore. Odetta grew up during the years of civil unrest and segregation laws, hearing Jim Crow mentioned so often that she thought he was a real person. When her family moved to Los Angeles, she experienced prejudice first hand when attempting to board the "white" train car. Living in Los Angeles, she experienced freedom when fountains were not labeled for people by color and her family was finally able to pay for her long-awaited piano lessons. But true freedom for Odetta came when she began singing, and later, playing her guitar that she fondly named Baby. Odetta became famous for her heartfelt songs that drew from spirituals sung by workers in cotton fields, chain gangs, and churchgoers of years past. She influenced those who followed after her, including Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Through lyrical prose that hums with the spirit of Odetta and beautiful folksy illustrations, readers have a chance to glimpse the life of a great African American folk singer and musician. Reviewer: Barbara Wheatley
School Library Journal
Gr 3�6—Through stunning illustrations and text, Alcorn pays tribute to the incomparable folksinger. When Odetta was born in 1930 in Birmingham, AL, the Deep South was enmeshed in Jim Crow laws. Music offered solace: "Spirituals, gospel, prison, and work songs: the cup of soup Odetta grew up on!" Alcorn's eye-catching paintings boldly blend iconic and folk elements. As a shocked Odetta watches, a water fountain's torrent of frothy letters spells out "Whites Only." Odetta's musical hero was Marian Anderson; Alcorn depicts her soaring with the sparrows in flowing angels' robes, pearls, and multicolored wings. Odetta's family found welcome in Los Angeles, where her talents came of age: "The way Odetta sang, not even Jim Crow could tell her no!" Alcorn's prose is spirited and playful; as Odetta wins renown, her music unites people of all races. One brilliantly composed scene finds her amid a cotton field, her billowing sack teeming with birds she is waving aloft. An author's note lends context and perspective; additionally, there is a list of recommended recordings. This is a rousing introduction to a musical trailblazer.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Alcorn's friendship with legendary folksinger Odetta (1930–2008) underpins his admiring, free-form narrative and stylized, heroic casein paintings. Selected biographical details play at the edges of the iconic, emblematic spreads, interweaving Odetta's own perspective with the adulatory, authorial one. The third-person lines, peppered with incidental rhyme, move from the early years in "Burning Ham"—where her piano-playing so annoyed an aunt that "little Odetta / had no choice but / to shut / the lid / on all / those pretty keys"—to brushes with Jim Crow on a Los Angeles–bound train to an influential life at the forefront of the folk and Civil Rights movements. Occasionally poetic license results in oblique, perplexing lines: "From the cramped / Jim Crow car, / from the cramped / Knee grow car." But readers navigating this swooping, visually stunning tribute, rife with soaring birds, bright textiles, shining stars and visual paeans (such as Odetta's halo of piano keys and her guitar's heart-shaped sound hole) will be much the richer for the journey. (author's note, selected discography) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 7-10)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439928182
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2010
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
AD930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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