Friday, April 26, 2013

Hide/Grow/Reach Out: New-to-Me Books





Oh, this one in the picture has a lot of energy. All three of my kids are pretty intense, but this one’s energy is usually a lot more outwardly-directed than the others’. When she’s reading a book, though, it absorbs her fully. There’s something extra-delightful about that. It wasn’t too long ago that I wondered if she would ever sit down for a story. She is so busy, so physical. But no—when she reads, the book takes all that energy and draws it wholly into itself. This fits her personality, but I didn’t expect it.

I have been conscious, myself, of how I hide myself in books (or in making music, or creating things,) especially during hard or stressful times. Sometimes these things are escape, sometimes solace (not the same thing, those two.) But they are also places to grow. There is nothing like hearing someone else’s story to find encouragement and discover you are not alone. To seek wisdom and gain perspective. When it’s time to come back out of a book and engage your life, you have the opportunity to bring something new with you—hope, understanding, peace, strength, mercy—something. And with that something you have a new way to reach out.

How beautiful is that?

We must keep sharing this with the children around us.

To that end, I am (finally) adding to my Music Resources: Picture Books, Etc. page. The new additions are below. And if you haven’t visited this page yet, please do. I know there are books I’ve missed, so if there’s something that should be there that you don’t see, let me know in the comments!

Leave Your Sleep: A Collection of Classic Children’s Poetry, by Natalie Merchant, illustrated by Barbara McClintock, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2012
I adore books like this—fabulous words, beautiful illustrations, and a full-length CD—in my mind that pretty much covers everything you could want. This collection was inspired by the poems, stories, and songs Natalie Merchant shared with her daughter in the first six years of her life. This is a wealth of good literature, and good art, and good music.


For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart, by Elizabeth Rusch, paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, Tricycle Press, 2011
Maria Anna Mozart (Nannerl) was as much a child prodigy as her younger brother Wolfgang Amadeus. The two traveled and performed together all over Europe for several years. But when Wolfgang and his father left on a second trip, Maria was left behind. From that point, the siblings’ lives took different courses. Written in small segments following the form of a piano sonata, this book details Maria’s life, showing how music permeated her life, even though her opportunities as a woman were much different than her brother’s.


The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George, by Hugh Brewster, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007
Born in the West Indies in 1745 to a slave mother and wealthy plantation-owner father, Joseph de Bologne-Saint-George was raised and educated like a gentleman. When Joseph was eight his father sold his plantation and moved to Paris, bringing Joseph and his mother, now both no longer slaves, with him. He also re-named his son, giving him the title Chevalier, which was equivalent to a knight. Joseph was bright, talented, strong, and handsome, and he made a name for himself in France as a brilliant fencer, an accomplished musician, composer, and conductor, and later in life as the first black colonel in the French army. He was famous and accomplished and admired, but he also had to navigate a world in which his opportunities were quite limited by the color of his skin. His fascinating story is told in the context of the world of his time, with brief interludes telling about Paris, Haydn, Mozart, Marie Antoinette, and the French Revolution scattered through the book.


Little Stevie Wonder, by Quincy Troupe, illustrated by Lisa Cohen, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005
The story of Stevie Wonder’s life, told in energetic, poetic language and vibrant illustrations. Accompanied by a CD with two of his songs, “Fingertips,” and “Uptight (Everything’s Alright.” This is as much a tribute to the man and his work as it is a biography.




Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People, by Bonnie Christensen, Alfred A Knopf, 2001
Woody Guthrie had a hard, poor life from the start, but when he traveled from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life during the Depression and found only more hardship, and saw the plight of other migrant workers like him, he made it his mission to become their voice. He spent his life traveling across America, talking to migrant field workers, miners, and factory workers, turning their stories and their struggles into songs, as well as championing the rights of workers and the importance of unions. 





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