Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Summary: The story of Aretha Franklin’s life is told in rhyming couplets, each one titled with a word written like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” in the title. Starting with “B-L-E-S-S-E-D”, showing a young Aretha praying while her parents watch, the story traces her life and career from singing gospel at her church to performing at President Obama’s inauguration. In addition to her musical career, Aretha’s civil rights work is touched upon. The final two pages celebrate both her legacy and her humility, ending with her description of her voice as “the gift that God gave me”. Includes an author’s note with additional information about Aretha Franklin’s life and a list of her biggest hits. 48 pages; grades K-4.
Pros: The large, colorful illustrations capture Aretha Franklin’s big personality and singing voice, starting with a gorgeous pink Cadillac on the title page. This is the third book I’ve reviewed this year illustrated by the prolific Frank Morrison, and I hope he gets some recognition at awards time. This would make a good companion to A Voice Named Aretha.
Cons: Those who don’t know much about Aretha Franklin’s life may struggle to make sense of the brief text unless they start with the author’s note at the end.