Rating: 4 1/2 stars
“Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century” by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Raul Colón is another picture book perfect for those who need books for elementary students which will help with teaching Common Core State Standards and its demand for nonfiction literature.
This biography of Leontyne Price is written with beautiful figurative language. It grips the reader from the first page. “1927. Laurel, Mississippi. The line between black and white was as wide as the Mississippi River was long.”
Weatherford’s frank narrative, while painting a lovely picture of Leontyne’s home life (“Leontyne had plenty to be thankful for. A mama and daddy who made sure Leontyne had two pairs of shoes and knew she was as good as anyone — black or white.”), is painfully frank about the limits a young black girl faced (“With her suitcase, she rode a bus to college in Ohio, aiming to be a teacher, the concert stage out of reach for a black singer then.”).
Much is made of the fact that Marian Anderson led the fight for black opera singers to be recognized and admired not only in the US, but also elsewhere in the world. Again, beautiful figurative language and imagery are used to display that idea throughout the story. “Led by song, she cracked the door that Marian had opened years earlier,” and later “…she blew open the door that Marian left ajar.”
The “Author’s Note” at the end tells the story without metaphor.
The illustrations are by Raul Colón. Those who have seen his other picture books, including “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes,” will recognize his style. The pictures are filled with texture and color.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, for review purposes.