Saturday, October 1, 2011

rhythm, rhyme, and "harmony"

I must admit that I was unfamiliar with the song which is the basis for this picture book, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? by George Ella Lyon with illustrations by Christopher Cardinale (Cinco Puntos 2011). Now, on its 80th anniversary, we learn of the origins of this song about unions penned by the wife of a coal worker who was being hunted down because he dared tried to join a union for better working conditions. never has this book seemed more timely since then, I imagine, in this day when others seek to ban unions that protect workers. The illustrations capture perfectly the tenor of the story behind this song. Words and music are included on the back cover. There is also an appendix with author notes. <500>

Since music seems to be important, it seemed logical to tie this book in here. DUKE ELLINGTON'S NUTCRACKER SUITE by Anna Harwell Celenza with illustrations by Don Tate (Charlesbridge 2011) again recounts a story unknown to me. Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn composed a jazz variation on the Nutcracker Suite. A CD includes a recording of this incredible piece. I played it in the background as I was reading the book for a total reading/listening experience. Music teachers would find this not only interesting but perhaps a sort of mentor text as well. <501>


  1. The ballet is coming to perform The Nutcracker (for free). This would be a great book to share with students before hand.

  2. When working with my 8th grade students in the area of poetry, we take a look at songs. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON seems like a perfect opportunity to share a song which captures the historical events of the time using poetic devices.

  3. I would really like to find the CD. Thanks for the tip. I'm sure that students will enjoy the book even more with the music in the background.

  4. LS5385
    I hardly have books that have a musical history or any indication their of and I believe that these two books are definitely some keepers.