Leontyne Pryce, Voice of a Century

Leontyne Price Voice of A Century by Carole Boston Weatherford a Joy Makin' Mamas ReviewI confess, it has taken me a lot longer to do this review than I think it should have. That’s because ever since my review copy arrived, I have been taking it out and looking at it, and then putting it away. It’s not that I didn’t love it more each time I looked at it. Quite the contrary- I kept feeling that there was no way I could do it justice.

Perhaps this feeling is one I have shared with Carole Boston Weatherford. Leontyne Price’s accomplishments are as impressive as she is. To recount all of them in a single children’s book would be impossible, and Weatherford has thankfully not tried to do that. Instead, this book (beautifully and evocatively illustrated by Raul Colón) tells the story of a little girl who had a talent that turned into a dream, neatly encapsulating her amazing career and life without writing her biography. Leontyne Price Voice of A Century by Carole Boston Weatherford

Weatherford’s lyrical prose packs a great deal of imagery and information into few words at every point throughout the book. The mark of a truly gifted writer is to be able to make us feel emotions and gain understaning with few words.  This book is an impressive example of just such writing. Every sentence and every phrase are on the mark. Weatherford conveys not only information but context and emotion. I get the sense that Weatherford feels a strong emotional connection to her subject, which she shares with me very effectively.

The language is appropriate for the grade level (K-4, according to Amazon.com) but will speak to the adult reader as well. This is something I always value as a gem without price, as someone who is pressed into reading the same stories again, and again, and again.

This book, like Maddi’s Fridge,  has taken some pretty big concepts and given me a manageable way to introduce them to my child. As a parent I have a lot of big things to discuss with my kid, and a beautiful opener is just what I need. Life in Mississippi in 1927 was very different from what it is here, and now, but rather than try to give all the historical background, Weatherford includes just enough to give Price’s story context, and then moves on.

I also love that this book contains references to operas and musical theater. I think it’s important to expose my kids to a variety of things so they can find what they love. It’s not that I won’t allow my child to watch Annoying Orange (although I would be pleased never, ever, ever to hear it again) but that I want to expand his horizons. A well written, well illustrated story book about an opera singer is a wonderful way not only celebrate Price’s accomplishments, but to introduce my child to another form of artistic expression.

Last but not least, I love that Weatherford included the role that television played in breaking down social barriers. There is a lot of meat in this book for jumping off into conversations about how the world has been and how it is different, in addition to a story that shows what can happen when you believe in yourself, and when those who love you believe in you as well.

Buy Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century on Amazon, $14.21 {Aff link}

Book Description

Leontyne Price Voice of A Century by Carole Boston Weatherford

December 23, 2014 5 – 9 K – 4
A stunning picture-book biography of iconic African American opera star Leontyne Price.Born in a small town in Mississippi in 1927, the daughter of a midwife and a sawmill worker, Leontyne Price might have grown up singing the blues. But Leontyne had big dreams—and plenty to be thankful for—as she surrounded herself with church hymns and hallelujahs, soaked up opera arias on the radio, and watched the great Marian Anderson grace the stage. While racism made it unlikely that a poor black girl from the South would pursue an opera career, Leontyne’s wondrous voice and unconquerable spirit prevailed. Bursting through the door Marian had cracked open, Leontyne was soon recognized and celebrated for her leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and around the world—most notably as the majestic Ethiopian princess in Aida, the part she felt she was born to sing.From award-winners Carole Boston Weatherford and Raul Colón comes the story of a little girl from Mississippi who became a beloved star—one whose song soared on the breath of her ancestors and paved the way for those who followed.

Want to know more about Leontyne Price? Proceed carefully, because I predict you are about to fall in love with her. Not only is her career impressive, but she very admirably does not downplay her accomplishments.

Leontyne singing The Whole World In His Hands

Interview with Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price Inspirational Aspirational Joy Makin' Mamas Review

**I received a copy of this book at no cost to me to facilitate my review. As always, I offer only my full and honest opinion.

About Meghan G

I like blues, punk, and crime drama. I love having boys, keeping active, and the outdoors. I'm a cat person, but I think dogs should have equal opportunities.

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