Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The music in our hearts

Here are two books about family and music. They could not be more different. However, I find sometimes that pairing two dissimilar books gives kids a chance to make some new connections, fire some new synapses.

WHEN GRANDMAMA SANG pairs author Margaree King Mitchell and illustrator James Ransome (Amistad/HarperCollins 2012). A young girl gets the chance to accompany her grandmother and a small band as they perform in small venues in the South during Jim Crow days. Grandmama has a voice that manages to bring people together, to make them forget their differences. It is an important lesson for all of us to learn: persistence and faith are essential components of being able to love one's dream. Mitchell's text is not preachy or laden with heaviness. Instead, it glows rather like the paintings from Ransome, letting readers know about the joy in the hearts of the musicians and their family. <63>

WILLIE AND UNCLE BILL by Amy Schwartz (Holiday House 2012) is a picture book with chapters or several stories if you prefer. In each case, Uncle Bill comes to babysit Willie. And in each story, there is an adventure involved. Willie is a willing accomplice to Uncle Bill's plans though it sometimes seems as if Willie's mother is not quite as thrilled. <64>

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