Today, I'm reviewing the lovely picture book, Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century.
Author Carole Boston Weatherford and Illustrator Raul Colon have written an exquisite tale about Leontyne Price's life story and legendary singing career, that is sure to inspire and enchant young readers everywhere.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Expected publication: December 23rd 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2014)
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Beginning with Leontyne's musical influences as a child, to the encouragement from a college professor to study music which would eventually change her world forever, this is a beautifully written and wonderfully detailed book which will capture every reader's imagination, young and old.
Born in a small town in Mississippi in 1927, the daughter of a midwife and a sawmill worker, Leontyne Price might have grown up singing the blues. But Leontyne had big dreams-and plenty to be thankful for-as she surrounded herself with church hymns and hallelujahs, soaked up opera arias on the radio, and watched the great Marian Anderson grace the stage.
While racism made it unlikely that a poor black girl from the South would pursue an opera career, Leontyne's wondrous voice and unconquerable spirit prevailed. Bursting through the door Marian had cracked open, Leontyne was soon recognized and celebrated for her leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world-most notably as the majestic Ethiopian princess in Aida, the part she felt she was born to sing.
From award-winners Carole Boston Weatherford and Raul Colón comes the story of a little girl from Mississippi who became a beloved star-one whose song soared on the breath of her ancestors and paved the way for those who followed.
In Leontyne Price, Voice of a Generation, acclaimed children's book author Carole Weatherford and illustrator Raul Colón team up to tell the story of acclaimed opera singer Leontyne Price. Weatherford charts Leontyne's early years as a young girl growing up surrounded by music in Mississippi, all the way to her triumph success in Aida, a performance that continues to inspire singers to this very day.
Weatherford's writing is melodic and poetic, using beautifully-constructed sentences to share Leontyne's joy in learning to love music as a child, to her eventual realization that she has a gift to offer the world. While Weatherford doesn't hesitate to share the many racial and societal barriers faced by Leontyne during her rise to stardorm, they're presented in a way that focuses on those who have supported Leontyne along the way, and the poignant reminder that she will always be considered a trailblazer for those to come.
Illustrator Raul Colón helps to chart Leontyne's journey and Weatherford's beautiful prose with illustrations that burst off the page in swirls of color and grandeur. Readers can literally see the music wrap itself around Leontyne like a constant reminder of the gift that she has to share with the world, and it's hard not to feel the joy and love bursting off of every page.
Both author and illustrator make an impact throughout the book, but it's the final page of the story that will absolutely cement for readers the wonderful gift that Weatherford and Colón have given to readers everywhere, by sharing Ms. Price's inspiring journey.
Final verdict: Leontyne Price: Voice of a Generation, is a beautifully written book that belongs on every shelf. It not only shares the life of a singer that may not be as well-known to today's youth; it's also a wonderful reminder of how the strength and determination of one fearless young woman helped change the world forever.
I highly recommend this book for all readers. This is a book that will undoubtedly continue to inspire young dreamers like Leontyne, for many generations to come.
About the author:
Carole Boston Weatherford's picture books have received many literary accolades, including a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and an NAACP Image Award. She is also the recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature. Carole lives in North Carolina and teaches at Fayetteville State University. To learn more about her, visit CBWeatherford.com.
About the Illustrator:
Raul Colón is the illustrator of many award-winning picture books, including As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson and Doña Flor and Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora. His works have received the Pura Belpré Award, Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, and two Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Awards. Raul lives in New York with his wife.