Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? This inspiring picture book biography of Lena Horne really shines. From candid descriptions of racism, to the colorful oil paint and collage illustrations, the book succeeds in painting a rich portrait of the African-American singer’s long and storied life. I loved that the author didn’t flinch in portraying Horne’s struggles with cruel Jim Crow rules even as her notoriety soared. Weatherford shows that Horne’s struggles – racism, single motherhood, making ends meet – echoed the times and the struggles of Black America. And the illustrations show Horne as successful and beaming in some views, as well as downhearted and angry in others. This gives the subject dimension and relatability, and places her firmly in historical context. Back matter includes bibliography and sources for further information. The back cover shows Horne as a child, surrounded by books, with the caption: “Lena learned to read before kindergarten; books were her lifelong love.”
To whom would you recommend this book? Add this to a list of great picture book biographies of 20th century African-American artists, such as Golio’s Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song, and Russell-Brown’s Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to name a few recent titles.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: March 23, 2017