Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song by Gary Golio –ADVISABLE

Golio, Gary Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song.  PICTURE BOOK.  20 pgs. Millbrook, 2017.  $19.99.  Content: G.
This book functions as a mini biography of Billie Holiday with a focus on the segregation injustices that she experienced. Readers learn that when a song writer approached her with a potentially controversial song which decried the lynching and treatment of African Americans, she not only sang it but had it written into her contracts that she would sing it. She faced threats and assault but she did not give up. The Lyrics are included as well as a lengthier biography and photograph. The artwork is heavy swirly paint.
This is one of those picture books that I think is perfect for middle and high school. Though it short, and could be used to open a lesson or unit, it packs a powerful punch. I could see history teachers and music teachers both using this as intro to protest songs, segregation, and powerful female figures of history. While it’s of extreme importance to teach about civil rights to elementary students, this is a bit too intense for their maturity level. While the artwork had movement, it was just blurry and heavy and frenetic, I think it failed to bring to life the powerful and talented Billie Holiday for the readers.  
MS, HS –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author

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