Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone: Todd, Traci N., Robinson, Christian:  9781524737283: Amazon.com: Books
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone: Todd, Traci N., Robinson, Christian:  9781524737283: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Eunice Waymon was a precocious musical talent, playing at her mother’s church from the age of 3.  Her daddy taught her some jazz, she learned gospel at church, and her piano teacher taught her classical.  After studying at Julliard, Eunice was rejected by Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, a disappointment that she suspected was because she was Black and female.  She almost gave up on music, but heard about a job performing in an Atlantic City club.  Not wanting her religious mother to find out what she was doing, Eunice Waymon became Nina Simone.  Her fame was growing during the years of the civil rights movement, and Nina began adding words to her music to express the anger, frustration, and fear she felt.  “And when she sang of Black children–you lovely, precious dreams–her voice sounded like hope.”  Includes additional information about Nina Simone and a bibliography.  56 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  This well-written biography is sure to be considered for a Caldecott or Coretta Scott King award.  Christian Robinson’s acrylic and collage illustrations cleverly incorporate scenes from the civil rights movement into illustrations of Nina’s performances.

Cons:  The ending felt a bit abrupt.

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