With the flair for which she is known, Hopkinson (Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek) chronicles the early life of John Avery Lomax, a pioneer of folk musicology who got his start collecting cowboy songs. The colorful narrative devotes several spreads to the song collector's childhood in Texas. Glimpses of his thoughts and emotions (e.g, "The songs went straight to John's heart, and he made up his mind to write down each and every cowboy song he heard") as well as dialogue help personalize the story. Short, chapter-like segments begin with lyrics from cowboy songs, like "Poor Lonesome Cowboy," although it may take a more sophisticated reader to connect the songs' themes with Lomax's life. Schindler's (The Story of Salt) realistic illustrations, painted with a light touch in muted hues, ably capture the expressions of skeptical cowboys ("I'm not goin' poke my face up to your blamed old horn and sing," says one at the sight of Lomax's Ediphone) or the eagerness with which Lomax goes about his work. Concluding author notes read more like a standard biography and sketch out Lomax's later years. Ages 6-8. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This lovely picture-book biography of the noted musicologist describes his youth in Texas where he enjoyed singing as he worked on the family ranch and he listened to cowboys singing as they traveled the old Chisholm Trail. Lomas taught for a few years, but his passionate interest in music won out and led him to become an extraordinary collector of folk songs. Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations radiate warmth, charm, and humor, highlighting expressive features and striking individuality. The handsome artwork is full of energy and authenticity, and includes faithful and appealing renditions of animals and bucolic landscapes. Excerpts from some songs appear prominently. Addendum material includes additional details about Lomax, his family, and their legacy; information about the Library of Congress archival collection of songs; and a list of other sources.-Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA
Interspersing her narrative with verses from "Home on the Range," "Sweet Betsy from Pike," "The Old Chisholm Trail" and like cowboy chestnuts, Hopkinson retraces the early career of the greatest collector and recorder of American folk songs ever. Taking minor liberties with the historical record (and compensating with a detailed afterword), she follows him from rural Texan childhood to the halls of Harvard, and then back out onto the trail, where, with a notebook and a primitive "Ediphone," he gathered verses and performances from anyone who would sing for him. In Schindler's atmospheric illustrations a dapper young man mingles comfortably with brushy-mustached, Stetson-topped cowpokes-and sits in one scene with a colorfully clad fortuneteller-in settings that are mostly wide, outdoorsy spreads of western prairie. Capped with a fuller picture of the work of Lomax and his son Alan, as well as enticing source notes, this account can't help but broaden the insight of little dogies everywhere into the histories and meaning of these enduringly popular songs. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)