God Bless the Child

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9780064436465: God Bless the Child

The song "God Bless the Child" was first performed by legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday in 1939 and remains one of her enduring masterpieces. In this picture book interpretation, renowned illustrator Jerry Pinkney has created images of a family moving from the rural South to the urban North during the Great Migration. This extraordinary book stands as a tribute to all those men and women who dared so much to get their own.

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About the Author:

Billie Holiday is one of the most famous jazz singers of all time. She was born Eleanora Fagan Gough in 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland, but changed her name to Billie after her favorite film star, Billie Dove, and Holiday, which was her father's last name. As a child and in the beginning stages of her career, she endured many hardships but made her first recording in 1933 at the age of eighteen. She quickly rose to stardom, and six years later she introduced the world to two of her best-known songs: "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child." Billie Holiday's star burned brightly, but too briefly. She died in New York City at the age of forty-four.

From School Library Journal:

Kindergarten-Grade 5--A moving visual interpretation of Holiday and Herzog's swing spiritual based on the proverb, "God blessed the child that's got his own." The song serves as the inspiration for Pinkney's depiction of the Great Migration of the 1930s. Through evocative images, the artist tells the story of one family's move north. The warm and sweeping illustrations are masterful, completely filling each spread. Although the pages are rich in detail, the well-composed paintings never seem cluttered or overwhelming. There is something new to attract readers, even after several readings. The sense of the family members as a unit, as well as their emotions of hope, anxiety, and relief, are all beautifully conveyed. A CD of Holiday performing the song is included, and while the book can be enjoyed without it, listening to the nostalgic and somewhat bittersweet music does elicit an emotional response. While a fine choice for independent reading, this title is particularly poignant when shared with a group, turning the pages in conjunction with the CD. An author's note provides background about Pinkney's inspirations and research. This offering makes an excellent tie-in to units on African-American history.--Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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